I am very grateful for Bishop Robert Barron. In one of his YouTube videos, he gave the best definition of love I have ever heard. I have found this very useful, especially when working with difficult people. He says Love is “willing the good of the other. It’s an act of the will, not an emotion.”
That really helped me understand love – in theory. And nothing has helped me more with love – in practice – than remembering it’s all about forgiveness.
If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” Matthew 6:14-15
(2011-10-31). Bible: New American Bible, Revised Edition 2011 (Kindle Locations 49086-49087). . Kindle Edition.
That’s right, remember? “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” In one phrase Jesus perfectly sums up the Father’s idea of eternal justice. What I learned over time was that Kindness and Mercy require great strength. They are NOT signs of weakness! It’s easy to get mad and stay there. That’s human nature, and all too common. It’s ordinary. You were made for more. You were made to be extra-ordinary.
So how do we forgive others? It’s easy to say and hard to actually do. Even when we do manage it, we don’t forget. And our minds keep bringing up the hurt and frustration, as if to taunt us. The good news is you don’t have to feel powerless any more.
There’s a story in the gospel about a servant who’s great debt is forgiven until the king finds out the servant refuses to forgive another servant who owes a much smaller debt. He refuses to ‘pay it forward’ and forgive, even though he’s been forgiven. The king grabs the wicked servant and throws him in prison for this.
So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” Matthew 18:35
(2011-10-31). Bible: New American Bible, Revised Edition 2011 (Kindle Location 49702). . Kindle Edition.
And that picture of prison is the imagery we can use to forgive anyone! Want to become spiritually powerful? Do the following workout every day and be amazed:
Pray the Our Father. After you ask Him to forgive your trespasses, stop and think about every person you need to forgive. Picture someone who owes you something – a debt, an apology, an acknowledgment, etc. Now see that person in a cage, cell , dungeon or shackles. They will remain there until someone let’s them out. You look down and see the key to their incarceration is in your hand. You realize you have all the power, and that power is called mercy. They may not have shown you mercy when they had the chance, but that’s because they don’t yet have what you have. You are stronger, you control this situation and their future. Now show off your strength and release them.
Start with yourself and those in your own home, then family, then friends, then work, then those you encounter online and on social media, then those in traffic and/or strangers out in public. Repeat the process, like reps in a workout.
Sounds like a lot? Like any other form of exercise, it will be work at first, then each day will get a little easier and you will realize you have fewer people to release. Do this regularly and you will begin to forgive others much faster. Your patience will grow too. You will start to see things from other people’s perspective and become a better problem solver. Your spiritual power will be growing, accelerating. And others will start to notice too. Eventually someone will comment on how they wish they could be more like you, and not get so ‘worked up’ all the time. That’s when you share your secret!