(This post is part of an ongoing series about the JTN manifesto. To learn more, click here.) Some of you know that my journey into nonviolence this past year landed me squarely in need of greater silence and solitude. I took several months this past summer to focus more intently on the works of peace and to journal and explore my own thoughts, feelings, reactions, and prayers on the subject.
What is less commonly known is how pointedly I knew that would also be an intentional journey into forgiveness.
My conscious journey toward grace, love, and freedom over the past ten years has primarily focused on inner healing. It has been a discovery of God's lavish love. And in that context, I also came in contact with God's heart for justice. I found him to be a God who comforts the afflicted and soothes what is bandaged and broken in us at the hands of others.
This was a beautiful, needed journey, and it will always be precious to me.
But over time, other thoughts began to tug at me. These were thoughts about forgiveness. Thoughts about the implications of God's radical grace and love.
Questions kept bubbling to the surface that would not go away:
"What does it mean to forgive, as God asks me to forgive?"
"How do I hold God's love for so-and-so alongside God's love for me?"
"If I forgive them, what will my story be anymore?"
These were troubling questions. I wanted to ignore them, and I did ... for several years. I kept clinging to God's tender love for my sore places. I knew that his love for me in those places was true.
There existed a tension between God's love for me and his ability to forgive those who had hurt me. I was so aware I didn't have that God-like ability in me yet.
As I approached this past summer, I knew it was time.
I knew going deeper into a lifestyle of nonviolence -- if, indeed, I was going to embrace that ethic -- meant addressing my own violence of heart, and that included (among other things) my own anger and unforgiveness.
I just didn't know what that meant or looked like.
I was grateful for the extended time of reflection the summer was going to afford me. I needed expansive space to hold those big, hard questions without noise or distraction.
I'll be writing about this long forgiveness journey I took in greater detail at another time.
For now, I wanted to share the truth I've learned through all of this that living at peace with our fellow man in a truly nonviolent way means facing our demons of unforgiveness.
It means embracing forgiveness as a way of life.
It even means opening ourselves to the restorative, blow-your-mind creativity of reconciliation.
I can't wait to share that story with you. But in the meantime, what about you:
How have you walked (or avoided) the path of forgiveness and reconciliation in your own life's journey?