Ongoing Grace –
One of the hardest acts in life is letting go of the expectation of an apology from someone who has hurt, offended us. Many times, we never receive what we are tempted to think we deserve.
Not too long ago I received a surprising apology from someone who had hurt me years ago. They asked for forgiveness and I gave it to them. However, apologies can be tricky. When someone expresses regret about an action or harmful words our ability to forgive has much to do with our place on the journey of forgiveness. Saying the words; “I forgive you.” helps but rarely completely, instantly heals the wounds.
Since the apology, there have been moments of pain when I am reminded the wounds are still healing. Times when memories are relived and the urge to fall back into negative thoughts patterns, judgmental attitudes are present. It is here, on our journey, we realize forgiveness is not a one-time act or phrase but a process, an ongoing combination of acts, words, and intent of spirit. There are seasons, moments, instances when the past impresses itself on the present. Wisdom teaches us not to ignore, resent, or seek escape but to let it be a reminder that forgiveness in an ongoing act of grace.
Last night I watched the movie; “Legend” about two brothers who were London gangsters in the 1960s. The titular roles were both played by Tom Hardy in an excellent performance.
The theme of the movie was the bond between a smart business minded brother Reggie and his schizophrenic sibling Ron. Throughout the film Reggie’s attempt to climb the ladder of the underworld and become, possibly, a legitimately respected businessman was constantly being thwarted by his mentally unstable brother. The movie ends with a disturbing scene in which Reggie kills a low life extortionist in front of Ron and when Ron asks why he did it. Reggie’s response was; “Because I can’t kill you.”
Loyalty is almost always a laudable virtue. We want to be the type of people who stick by our family and friends. We long to be seen as ones who are there for others no matter what, in thick and thin, whatever the costs, no sacrifice too big. As desirous a trait this seems, there are times when loyalty can be detrimental and disastrous. If our loyalty violates our principles, puts us in situations which keeps us from our purpose, stops us from being who we’re called to be, and should be, then our loyalty is misplaced.
I tell the men I work with, who are suffering from the disease of addiction or incarcerated, that one of the hardest choices they’ll make in their new lives is deciding which friends, family, associates they can no longer be around. They will need to make a conscious decision of who will and who wont walk with them on the right path. Even folks who have been loyal to them; if these people are harmful influences in their lives, have to go.
Loyalty is part of a desirable character but when loyalty to others means we are disloyal to ourselves a new way of thinking and being is required.