My lovely sons,
This past weekend was a special one for me. I went to a charity event on Friday evening, got to spend quality time with you all weekend, went out on a special date on Saturday evening with your dad, and then we all went to church on Sunday and discussed the first chapter of our Lenten study with our group. It was busy but wonderful.
I spent a good part of the weekend thinking about my faith. Last Wednesday (Ash Wednesday), I attended a talk about world religions. I learned many things I did not know about five of the world’s largest religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. I learned not only about their beliefs and practices, but also their history, which was fascinating. There are inspiring aspects to each one, and our speaker left us to consider at the end, “Why Jesus?” It struck me that I knew the rehearsed version from my childhood, the one that probably (?) all Protestants expect: “Because he died for my sins, and he is the way, the truth and the life.” But I did not know my own answer – the answer that is at the core of my very own faith – in my very own words. As a writer, I am determined to come up with that answer, and hopefully, by the end of this Lenten season. Maybe with you as my audience, you can help me.
Week 1: “Father, forgive them.”
For the first week of my Lenten study (Adam Hamilton’s Final Words from the Cross), I have been delving into the depth of Jesus’s statement from the cross as recorded in Luke, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). As Jesus was being spat upon and tortured on the cross, he had to work extremely hard just to speak, and he chose these words. Truly, he lived his ministry until the bitter end of his physical life on earth by showing mercy to his tormenters. As Hamilton reveals, “them” in this passage is really all of us since we were all there in a spiritual sense on the day they crucified him, and we are all in need of mercy. In fact, he has already shown his mercy! He just wants us to accept it.
Forgiveness is a subject that can be uncomfortable for me, especially as I get older and accumulate more years of both needing mercy and needing to give it. If I’m being honest with myself, I’d say that often, I don’t like to think about it. In fact, I might even lie to myself most of the time about grudges I hold and guilt I feel because of my own past indiscretions. This week has reminded me of the ultimate act of mercy and what it all means for me. It means I must face those grudges and feelings of guilt, lay them at the cross, and let them go.
I have also been reminded on a smaller, human scale that we all need forgiveness in our lives. For example, where on earth would my marriage with your dad be if we were not merciful towards one another? The same is true for family relationships (I know our family is no exception) and long-term friendships. Forgiveness is truly necessary.
Boys, I know that by the time you are reading this in 2030, you have needed forgiveness and that you have been wronged and have needed to show mercy towards others. I know I’d be kidding myself if I believed anything else. As your mom, this is a truth I must face. So, my prayer for you is that you recognize the freeing power of forgiveness and that you know what it is like to forgive others as well as yourself. Through Jesus, God has shown us all that we are worth it.
All my love,
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