On the 2nd Friday of Lent, the Dynamic Catholic reflection discussed spiritual health. We were encouraged to nurture our souls as we do our bodies. Matthew Kelly talked about the 10 minutes of prayer he has recommended for many years as part of his ministry. He also went over the Dynamic Catholic prayer process. That morning, I went through the process which then made me reflect on forgiveness. Forgiveness continues to be an area of growth for me.
I do hold grudges. It’s hard for me to get past wrongs that I feel folks have done to me or those I love. My anger may fade but doesn’t go away. I’ll be civil and polite a la Ben Linus.
But this is actually deceitful, passive-aggressive, and petty. It’s duplicitous. So I prayed for those I have wronged through my words and judgments. Several individuals are people I work with daily. Some I avoid. Some I choose to make contact with more often. While that may sometimes be the Ben Linus effect, I am also pushing myself to be more open no matter what my personal opinion and feelings might be. These people have the right to dignity and respect. Why take the low road and not show kindness? I pray for the gift of forgiveness.
I also pray to be free of self-righteousness. I own my flaws. But usually this leads me to consider myself superior to those I do not love. I feel that I’ve done the work in becoming more aware of my weaknesses; why don’t these people get there? That sort of thinking is unfair and unkind. I stop thinking of these people as individuals with private lives and focus on my history with them. This person lied, created an unsafe situation, betrayed my trust, and disappointed me or any combination of these wrongs or all of the above. This person makes bad choices and I disapprove. This person needs to get right or get left. Yet I am unwilling to be a guide or a model. I disconnect and judge and don’t offer forgiveness.
I was part of a marathon meeting that week. Our organization discussed the ways we can alienate others in how we present who we are. It’s not that we shouldn’t be honest and air our grievances or share our opinions. It gave us an opportunity to own the behavior and to confirm that there is a time and place for certain conversations. I myself have struggled with this issue in my professional life. If I have personal problems with someone, it’s not fair to involve others. I strive to keep my personal grievances private and to make time for thoughtful analysis of my thoughts, words, and actions. It may be difficult but it is necessary. In asking for God’s forgiveness, I must first forgive others.