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Monica Pickard spent twenty years of her adult life as a child care provider. During that time, with the help of her husband, she raised her son who has been diagnosed with Autism and Developmental Delay. She learned to navigate a world that was new to her – the world of Special Needs. She now shares these experiences and the wisdom they taught her, with love and heartfelt compassion for the human condition.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

To Forgive Is Human

Since it is Good Friday and Easter weekend, I want to take this time to write about Jesus and forgiveness.

Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.

How could a man hanging from a cross utter these words, especially after all he had endured? Many Christians believe Jesus was capable of saying it and feeling it because he was not just a man, but God; that God came to earth as a human to teach us about sin and to be a sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins. Other Christians and also non-Christians believe that he was not a human sacrifice; that he was a man who tried to teach us about the Christ in all of us. Where ever your belief falls, if we say it is his godliness that makes his teaching great, it diminishes his teaching, in a way. For the purposes of this post, I want you to temporarily forget that he is God, if that is your belief, and while you read it, I only want you to consider his human-ness and what it means that he was human because, whether you believe he was God or not, he was human.

Imagine this man lugging that cross through the streets, wearing that crown of thorns, blood dripping, being taunted by the crowd, after having been beaten and abused.

Arriving at the destination. The spikes are driven through his hands; through his feet. He is hoisted up into the air where he hangs.

Now imagine this man hanging there, the spikes through his hands and feet, feeling the weight of his body, with others on the ground watching his suffering.

Now picture him saying and truly meaning these words,

Father, forgive them! They know not what they do!

Could you ever imagine yourself praying for your tormentor, your abuser, your enemy, your murderers to be forgiven, while in the midst of torture and death?

Jesus could imagine you doing it. This is what he wants you to know. Not only are you capable of it, you are called to do it. He is calling us to forgive.

I could not do that, you think. I am not the son of God, the daughter of God in the same way he is. I have no special power like he did. I was not born of a virgin like he was.

If that would be your response, you diminish his teaching.

You just took everything he ever said and decided that he is a god with greater than human powers, which makes it true for him, but it could not possibly be true for you. It is as if he says to you, “The light that is in me is also in you,” and your response is, “Yes, but you are human and God while I am just human, so I could never do what you are capable of.” You gave yourself an excuse for not being peaceful, for not being loving, for not holding yourself to his standard.

 What he did was so astronomically great and strong and loving and powerful – asking for his murders to be forgiven while he hung there in agony – that we cannot imagine doing it ourselves. We cannot image a human being doing that. But that is exactly what a human being did. He tried to tell us that he has no special connection to
God that we, ourselves don’t also have.

My father is your father.

If we want peace in this world, as we say we do, we must understand that we are just as capable of forgiving as Jesus was. It is within us. It is up to us to find the kingdom of God within us and to believe what Jesus told us.

We say God came to earth and dwelt in a human body for a purpose; to die for our sins so that we may be forgiven and enter heaven. What if he also came to show us how it’s done?
And that it is possible for everyone to forgive anything, just as he did?
And that we enter heaven when we forgive?
And that there is never anything that needs to be forgiven because everything is as God made it: good and evil, right and wrong, grace and lessons.
And that God, already, has forgiven us even before we mess up?
What if all those things were true? What if we actually believed it? What if we believed we were capable of living up to his teaching and to the examples he showed us in his life and in his death?

He was our teacher right up to the moment of his death and beyond, but more than 2000 years later, we still don’t believe him. We say we do. We worship him and praise his name. We weep over his death and rejoice over his resurrection, but still we believe that we are not capable of being like him. He knew Christ was within him and that Christ is within us. He believed in a love so deep and so pure and a peace so infinite that he proved it throughout his life and during the events of his death.

The grace with which he lived and died: non-reaction, non-violence, forgiveness, love, and acceptance of every moment just as it was during the beatings, during the procession, during the nails being driven into him, while he hung there waiting for death to take away the pain of his body, begging for the terrorists to be forgiven, knowing that his death would not stop them from terrorizing others, and loving them anyway, is our example of the peace we can have even in our worst moments.

A moment of human weakness in suffering:

Why hast thou forsaken me?

Why, God, why?
To this, we can relate. The flesh is weak, after all. Being human is not easy.

Yet clinging to his Truth; our Truth...

Father, Forgive them…

His life and death are examples of what a human is capable of. He teaches us that we are no different from him and capable of the same things.

Oh, ye of little faith…
OUR Father, which art in heaven…
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, YOUR heavenly Father will also forgive you
YOU are the salt of the earth
YOU are the light of the world
For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my
            brother, and sister, and mother

In forgiveness we fear a wrong may never be made right, but if that were true, would he have died for us? Did he fear our wrongs would never be made right? Was revenge part of his agenda?

Forgiveness and peace for all of the world were his agenda.

I used to think Jesus asked for his killers to be forgiven because he knew they did not know the enormity of their actions – that they were killing God’s only son. However, I don’t think it had anything to do with him being God’s son. He asked for them to be forgiven because he knew the cause of their actions; not the reason for it, but the cause. He knew they were acting from ego (what he would call the devil) rather than their spirit. He understood the devil is fear. He knew that humans are constantly living in a state of fear with the devil whispering in our ear. He wanted to free us from our fear. He was our example of how to free ourselves from the fearful ego and take each moment as it comes without resistance no matter what is happening; no matter the horror of the moment or of the hour or of the day…

 I know he prayed for his killers to be forgiven because he truly loved them and truly wanted peace for them and all of the world. He knew they were living in fear and not at peace in their hearts. He knew the only way to bring peace to the world was through forgiveness and releasing the negativity inside of himself at that moment. He became the change he wanted to see in the world. He understood that to feel the peace of God, he needed to want it more for his killers than he wanted it for himself. Striving for peace in every moment, no matter what the circumstances are in that moment, is his message to us for the way to bring peace to the world. There will be world peace when each of us has enough compassion to see others as if they were Jesus the Christ; to know their bad behavior is caused by their fear. World peace will come when we can pray to the Father for all to be forgiven even as we suffer the pain and the heartache of the moment.

This Good Friday and Easter Sunday, remember what this human being taught us about love, about accepting everyone, about forgiveness, about the equality of every human being. We are not hanging on a cross, so why must we make forgiveness so difficult?

May your enemies be forgiven for all of their wrong-doings. May you know that you already are.

Happy Easter!

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