In God’s eyes we are all equal and born with freedom to accept him or reject him. We are free to choose good (selflessness) or evil (selfishness). We are expected to learn and grow during our lives to better follow his example and teaching of service, kindness, and selflessness. The smarter ones learn the lessons of life through academic (scripture) or observation (learning from other’s mistakes), but by far the best teacher in life is natural consequence.
While there are some lessons with immediate consequence like the pain/harm from fire or a hot stove. Often the lessons have delayed consequences. Infidelity in relationships eventually lead to broken relationships and loneliness. Bad health/wellness choices lead to sick and broken bodies. Spending more than we make leads to debt and lost freedom to creditors.
Initially we might point-fingers and blame others for the consequences. But an honest evaluation will lead to truth and eventual acceptance that many (if not all) of the consequences in life are a product of our values, beliefs, and decisions.
There are consequences we face that are the product of other people’s agency. We may be physically or emotionally harmed by other people’s decisions. Those decisions may be accidents, disregard, or intentional. God’s agency cannot be offered here or there, only to people who will choose good, but withheld from people who will choose evil. A difficult choice we are given is the choice to accept the agency of others and forgive, or to choose hate, revenge, and retaliation. While there are some situations where restitution can repair or replace lost property, almost all personal harm leaves physical and/or emotional damage that cannot simply be erased.
I’m not suggesting that forgiveness (mercy) should replace justice. Laws should be enforced in an effort to require repair and restitution. Truly dangerous and evil people should be locked up to protect others from future harm. But maximum recovery will never be achieved without the injured making the personal choice to forgive.
In a similar way, nature, famine, disease, earthquakes, and extreme weather impose death, destruction, and harm. Once again, we are free to accept and forgive, or to choose hate, revenge and retaliation against the earth and/or God. To the honest observer, it’s obvious that hate and revenge against mother nature (or God) is completely fruitless and only serves to create ever expanding, self-destructive tumors of toxic negative energy.
God is light and truth. And the opposite of God is darkness and lies: the devil and his angels. God encourages us to grant forgiveness. In contrast, the devil deceives us into focus on hate, revenge, and retaliation. The same is true within us.
Often, the most difficult person to forgive is ourselves. The honest observer can clearly see that our unwillingness to accept and forgive ourselves only creates self-hate, self-revenge, and self-retaliation. These destructive self-imposed punishments are tools of darkness designed to limit you from striving for and reaching your potential.
Forgive yourself freely from the mistakes you have made. I am not suggesting you should not hold yourself responsible to try to improve. But lack of self-forgiveness will keep you chained to past mistakes in a way that will make it impossible to move forward. One of the beautiful concepts of Christianity is that God has agreed to pay the price for our mistakes and that he will freely forgive us. That thought alone creates an opportunity for hope. The opposite of hope is despair. What is despair? It is self-hate, self-revenge, and self-retaliation. We do not need to be defined by the mistakes we make if we leave them behind and move forward. Forgive yourself and free yourself to imagine and create a better future you.
In the same way you should freely forgive yourself – you should freely forgive others. You should give others the same opportunity to become more than their past. Again, I’m not promoting an idea of people not being or holding each other responsible. Or, that justice doesn’t matter. But, not only do other people need mercy, the person most damaged by your lack of forgiveness if yourself. It’s easy to see that holding onto your own mistakes holds you back. Holding onto other people’s mistakes does the same thing. If you’re not careful, the baggage of not-forgiving others will become so heavy that you will not be able to take another step forward. Free yourself and freely forgive.
One of the very best ways to use your freedom, is to freely forgive.
PS: I started to write this about freedom and accountability but somehow it turned into freedom and forgiveness. I haven’t had time to clean it up much, but felt it was important enough that I just wanted to post it. Freedom and accountability coming up soon. It’s been on my mind for years, it’s time to put it on paper. Stay happy and stay healthy.