Jan 19 • 13M

The Way Forward: Forgiveness

A Guided Prayer of Loving Kindness and a Letting Go of Resentments

Kelley Weber
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A listening option to A Spiral Space newsletter on everyday contemplation and spiritual inquiry for those of us seeking the mystical in the mundane.
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Hi Friends, most of my energy writing these days is going towards the weekly prayer podcast I’m doing, so I’ll share another here. This whole sermon series the podcast accompanies is on “Loving People You Don’t Like.” Check it out.

I’ve also been writing about more personal life events, but I’m holding on to those for the time being and will share in the near future. I understand this is a difficult time for so many right now. Know that my prayers follow this newsletter through the ether to each of you and lift you up, longing for your wholeness and joy. Be well. - Kelley


The late, wise Archbishop Desmond Tutu writes, “There is no future without forgiveness.”  At first this might seem like a hyperbole.  No future?  Really? 

Really.  

Without forgiveness, we are left only with resentments.  Resentment literally means “to feel again.” They are a constant video loop of perceived wrongs done to us, relived over and over. Resentments keep us stuck.  There is no moving forward.  There is no future. 

So many of my favorite people are sober people. The Big Book in Alcoholics Anonymous states that, "Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.".  That’s because resentment is a mental habit that keeps us bound to our addictions.  And we all have addictions. Ours may not be as obvious as the alcoholic’s, but they are certainly there.  

Highly recommend this book by Rohr on 12 Steps for all of us.

When we choose to live out of resentment rather than forgiveness, we are in bondage to our anger, to the person we perceive as having wronged us.  We give ourselves away to these people.  Our attention.  Our energy.  Everything.  

Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

This is certainly hard work, this “putting away.”  Resentment feels good.  It focuses us on the faults of others and distracts us from our own faults.  Resentment doesn’t ask anything of us; on the contrary, we can stay right where we are, and we feel justified in doing so.  

But Forgiveness is a letting go.  A self-emptying.  It is the ultimate trust fall.  Resentment might feel like it is protecting us from further hurt, but in reality it just keeps us from feeling anything - we live hard-hearted.  Forgiveness, on the other hand, makes us “tenderhearted,” vulnerable .. and it is out of this tenderheartedness that we become free.  Free to love.  Free to move forward. To Grow.  

We mentioned last week how Jesus teaches most often through parable and seeming contradictions.  But there are times Jesus is really plain and direct.  In Matthew 6 he couldn’t be more clear, “If you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your sins.”  

I don’t think this is a quid pro quo, transaction he’s talking about here.  I think it's just true.  If we don’t forgive but rather stay stuck in resentment, we will also stay stuck in our “sin” patterns that separate us from God’s love.  It’s not that God refuses to forgive us, it's that through choosing resentment, we deny God’s willingness to love us into transformation.  

And how many times are we to forgive?  Jesus tells Peter that there is no end to forgiveness.  Here’s where the conversation usually turns to, “but there are certain things I can’t forgive.  Evil.  Violence.”  But, if forgiveness is more about our ability to let go of resentment, you might be able to see that there is never a time when forgiveness is not in our best interest. 

There is never a time when forgiveness doesn’t lead to our own freedom.  

Today I’m going to lead you through a prayer that is based on Loving Kindness meditations.  Loving Kindness is a mindfulness practice that invites the participants to send loving thoughts to people in their lives.  In this practice today, we’re going to invite God to create in us a tenderheart by praying for the people that might be difficult for us to pray for.  

Let’s begin:

Start by finding a comfortable seat and feeling your feet on the ground and the chair beneath you.  Notice your breathe.  Where are you most aware of the sensation of your breathe?  Your nose?  Mouth?  Chest?  Belly?  Allow your body to relax and your mind to be present.  In doing so, we consent to God’s presence and action in this time of prayer.  

Take a moment to think of someone that is closest to you.  A partner, a family member, a best friend.  See that person in your mind’s eye.  Imagine them smiling and happy, doing something that they love to do.  

(Dear Lord, we ask that you make us aware of anything we are holding on to that is keeping us stuck regarding this person.  It may be small or large, it may be hidden or it may be obvious.  Gently, bring to mind what we need to let go of, what we need to forgive.

And as you continue to picture your loved one, repeat after me. 

Lord, may you give them comfort.  

Lord, may you bring them joy. 

Lord, may you make them useful. 

Lord, may you keep them healthy. 

Now take a moment to think of a friend, someone perhaps that you care for but that sometimes can be difficult.  See that person in your mind’s eye.  Imagine them smiling and happy, doing something that they love to do.  

(Dear Lord, we ask that you make us aware of anything we are holding on to that is keeping us stuck regarding this person.  It may be small or large, it may be hidden or it may be obvious.  Gently, bring to mind what we need to let go of, what we need to forgive.

And as you continue to picture your friend, repeat after me. 

Lord, may you give them comfort.  

Lord, may you bring them joy. 

Lord, may you make them useful. 

Lord, may you keep them healthy. 

Now take a moment to think of someone that you are in conflict with. Someone with whom you struggle.  Maybe in your family, at work. Maybe you’ve gone out of your way to avoid this person.  Maybe you haven’t talked to them for a long time. See that person in your mind’s eye.  Imagine them smiling and happy, doing something that they love to do.  

(Dear Lord, we ask that you make us aware of anything we are holding on to that is keeping us stuck regarding this person.  It may be small or large, it may be hidden or it may be obvious.  Gently, bring to mind what we need to let go of, what we need to forgive.

And as you continue to picture this person, repeat after me. 

Lord, may you give them comfort.  

Lord, may you bring them joy. 

Lord, may you make them useful. 

Lord, may you keep them healthy. 


Dear Jesus, 

I want to risk tender heartedness.  

I want to be free of resentments that keep me stuck in destructive patterns.

I want nothing to separate me from the transforming love of God. 

Lord, make me aware when my grip tightens and I sink into anger. 

Like a breath of a thought, allow the spirit to soften me

Allow my hand to open and let go

As you forgave in your most painful hour, 

Teach me to forgive in radical ways

that not only heals me, but the world around me, as well. 

I ask all this in the name of the One who Heals, 

Amen.

Thanks for praying with me today.  Take this blessing and may it be etched in your heart. 

May you see the world around you 

And feel safe 

To risk an exhale, that can let go

Of the false voice that says,

My anger protects me.

And may you feel so loved, 

That as you inhale you feel the very fibers

Of forgiveness,  of unearned grace

Gratuitously offered from God’s own tenderheart. 

Be well friends. 

Interested in Spiritual Direction