Lent Week 5—Saturday
Lent is a time for reflection and forgiveness. Some look forward to it, some seek answers and change, some find solitude and peace with in, and some find it depressing and self-depriving.
Growing up at St. Mark’s in both the church and school it was always a season we talked about at great lengths. When I was a child and young person I did not enjoy Lent. As a young adult, I didn’t have time for it, even though I had spent the previous weeks participating in all the festivities. As an adult, I find that I look forward to it every year– particularly reflecting on my past year and years, decisions made or not made, and the people I have hurt along the way. Trust me, it can be a slippery slope if I dwell on something too long. I try to review who I hurt, why I did and why I thought it to be justified. Did I apologize, or did I try to explain? Was I accountable or did I take little to no responsibility for my actions? Was the apology accepted or was it perceived as disingenuous?
How do I know if I was forgiven or the person or persons I apologized too thought it to be lip service? In a world where we don’t forget, ever, can we really forgive? Celebrities and politicians who made poor choices in their college years are constantly reminded what they did thirty-plus years ago at a frat party. Good people who made a business decision that may have crossed a legal line struggle finding a job, and in most cases will never have a career again, relationships never restored because trust is no longer there even though apology was accepted.
I think the real question is, do I forgive myself? Have I taken the steps to correct my actions, not just apologize and expect the other person to move past it as well. Have I changed my behavior, asked for help in understanding the other party’s side? Have I asked God to forgive me and guide me? If I can’t forgive myself and take the steps to change my behavior, how can I expect my apologies to be accepted and forgiven?
I am my biggest critic. I am hard on others and harder on myself. I don’t forgive myself as easily as I forgive others, and I seem to never forget.
During the season of reflection, I pray that I can find the strength to forgive myself, to change the behavior that hurts others and accept God’s grace.