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April 7, 2016

Beauty Begins: The Beauty of Forgiveness

by Chris Shook and Megan Shook Alpha

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG)

Forgiveness is what makes the ugliness of the cross so beautiful.  While dying in unimaginable pain and horror, Jesus first words from the cross were, “Father, forgive them….”  Luke 23:34 Forgiveness is part of the wardrobe for every Christ follower as well.  Colossians tells us to put on the beautiful quality of forgiveness.  In this world, we will experience deep hurts but, every day, we have a choice to put on the ugly garment of bitterness or the beautiful coat of forgiveness.  Maybe, the first person you need to forgive before you can wear the wardrobe of Christlike character is your mother or father.  You may have some deep hurts caused by the ones who were supposed to be your first example of true beauty. But, we need to accept that every mom and dad makes mistakes.  None of us was raised by a perfect parent.  That’s why it is so important to forgive.

In their book Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers: Finding Freedom from Hurt and Hate, authors Leslie Leyland Fields and Dr. Jill Hubbard state:

It is not a simple thing to do this, to see beyond the roles our mothers and fathers at least partially failed at. To see beyond our need for them to their larger selves. But they were always more than our mothers and fathers. If you have children yourself, you know the truth of this, how much our children don’t know about us. How much of ourselves we hold back. Don’t we know that our own parents were boys and girls, with parents themselves and siblings and a kitchen sink with a leaky faucet and a sickly brother and a teacher they disliked and a secret hideout in their attic?  And if they married, they did so with dreams and hopes for good lives, better lives than they were given in their own first homes. And when your mother birthed you, she may have wept with joy. And if she gave you to someone else, to another set of parents, she may have wept with grief. Your father may remember the day you were born as the best day of his life.

Isn’t that true?  How often we forget that our mothers were little girls at one time. Again, that doesn’t excuse the shortcomings of their adult lives, but it can shed some light of understanding. And, maybe in that light, forgiveness can begin. Will that be a miraculous, instantaneous experience where everyone will hug and kiss and make up and be fully restored? Because of the kind of God we serve, yes, that’s possible. But, the more probable scenario is that the God we serve will allow us to experience the way forgiveness usually works – one step and one word at a time.  It may come from the reality that I’ll never have to forgive anyone more than Christ has forgiven me.

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