Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's not my strong suit

We been reading Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis for the discussion group led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter. I thought the last two chapters – “Sexual Morality” and “Christian Marriage” – would likely be the most controversial ones. Then I hit this week’s chapter.


It’s not my strong suit.

“Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea, until they have something to forgive,” Lewis says.

Well, exactly. It’s not that I bear grudges; it’s more that I have a long memory.

Not that there’s a significant difference between a grudge and a long memory, of course.

I can remember a lot of things people have done. I don’t have a photographic memory, but, oh, can I remember. Like when that jerk in junior high school threw…or that manager at work brazenly lied…oh, and that boss who took credit…well, you get the picture.

A lot of things get wrapped up in forgiveness: anger, hurt, a sense of trust being violated, a desire for penance, perhaps even a hope that the offending party will suffer, even a little bit. We talk about what we should have said or what we should have done. And forgiveness is about the last thing on our minds.

Forgiveness is hard.

Lewis has two suggestions. First, start with the easier stuff – like forgiving someone you love and whom you know loves you. We don’t have to leap immediately to Al Qaida and the attack on the World Trade Center. We should start small, probably because the small stuff is important.

And second, Lewis says, we should really understand what loving your neighbor as yourself really means. “I have to love him as I love myself,” he writes, “Well, how exactly do I love myself?” It’s not about being fond of your neighbor or thinking well of them. It’s more about hating the bad things we all do and loving the person in spite of the bad things.

Just like we love ourselves in spite of the bad things we know we do. We had the bad stuff we do, but we keep loving ourselves because we wish good for ourselves.

So, too, should we wish good for our neighbor.

To see more posts on this chapter of Mere Christianity, please visit Sarah Salter at Living Between the Lines.


Frank said...

You have a great post here , spreading positive vibes around:) Forgiveness is bliss , if you know how to forgive someone you'll be much happier in life. I liked the last part where you said if we can forgive ourselves after doing mistakes why do we remember the mistakes of others?
Do You Hold Grudges?
Do you believe in "forgive and forget" or "tit for tat"?

Dusty Rayburn said...

As I read this chapter and now have read Sarah's and your posts, I'm sitting here reflecting on my past blunders and wondering if there are a few I have not forgiven myself for or that I hold over my own head in judgement. And you know what, I can't think of any.

But I can think of a few regarding others actions against me. It's time I forgive them and seek their forgiveness for holding a grudge against them.

Maureen said...

Forgiveness, it's said, is never about the person you're forgiving. It frees the person offering it.

I think there is a difference between long memory and holding a grudge. The latter keeps you in a state of anger and turmoil, and takes a lot of energy to maintain; the former protects you by helping you remember and so avoid what brought you pain. Long memory gives you the chance to forgive.

Jennifer @ said...

I have a "long memory," too. I guess I never really understood the advice: "Forgive and forget."

Forgiving is good and right. But forgetting isn't always possible. I think a long memory is okay, as long as we aren't burdened by the past hurts.

Anonymous said...

I have a pretty short memory, but boy, can I suck the life out of an offense when it's there. It's like an obsession. It's not worth it though. Forgiveness is a true freedom. Thanks Glynn.