One has to go no further into the Holy Bible than the Lord’s Prayer to understand how our ability to forgive one another has a role in how God forgives us. In the New International Version in Matthew 6:12, Jesus is recorded as instructing us to pray, “…forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors…”. In Luke 11:4, Jesus tells us to “…forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us…”.
When people hurt us, and we have alarmingly and amazingly deep capacities to scar and wound each others hearts, forgiving them feels impossible. Forgiving someone who hurts us when that person is someone who loves us is often an action we feel we just can’t do.
Our mother taught us the importance of forgiveness. Sometimes by her example of what to do and sometimes what not to do.
Her marriage to our father was never without turmoil. It took about 30 years for that relationship to cease hurting them both and doing that came only upon our mother’s death. Mama went on to Heaven and our father enjoyed ten years and six months more of earthly life before he passed. Dad had opportunity to find love again, and fit into a new family easily. But when Mama died she and our father, and all her children were on good terms. Because Mama taught us how to forgive.
Although a Christian since her childhood Mama had a difficult time with forgiveness. Both in forgiving those who hurt her and acknowledging she hurt others. It was this portion of her own journey where she discovered she needed to seek forgiveness too. Sometimes from her children.
There was never any question, when our wonderful sweet mother called like that as to whether or not I’d forgive. For she was humble about her mistakes, she didn’t excuse her behavior away and she didn’t throw anyone else under the millstone, even when she had every right to do so. From the very minute of that first phone call healing change came into our relationship.
Mama was willing to learn, and then she put that education into work in her life.
Mama forgave even when those who hurt her wouldn’t, or no longer could, ask for her forgiveness. Even when that person was me.
Mama never took forgiveness for granted. Not from those she hurt and not from God.
Our Mama would turn 69 today if she were still with us on earth. She was 54 when she passed. Although it will be 15 years on the anniversary of her death that we’ve been without her physical presence she is still a large part of my life.
I think about her often and I pass her onto our daughter, who never knew her, by telling her stories, passing along life wisdom I learned from Grams. There are still days I want to pick up my phone and call her. Still situations that arise in my life I wish I could have thought to ask her about. Always times I wish she were here to simply be with me through hard times.
Today I still find myself trying to have a spirit and heart as humble as our mother’s. Her humbleness, her capacity to forgive and her willingness to keep on learning are just a few of the legacies she passed on to us. Ones well worth passing on to our own families.