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When forgiving someone seems impossible

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The Lord’s Prayer is a reminder that forgiveness is a process that begins with a first step.

If I’m honest, my favorite type of prayer is the one that I make up myself, that reflects what’s going on in my life and the world around me at a given moment. And no matter what or how I pray, I like to end with an Our Father. Lately, however, I have found it much harder to say that prayer because I’m struggling to believe what I’m saying and feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m disappointing God.

Life has been a little tough over the past year (and that’s putting it mildly). There’s someone in my life who has caused so much harm to me and my kids that I’m finding it impossible to forgive. “I’ll never forgive you in a million years” is the phrase that comes to mind whenever I think of the pain we’ve gone through.

Yet, I know I am supposed to forgive those who trespass against me. I wonder about forgiving those who have trespassed against my kids — isn’t that too much of God to expect of a mother? But deep down I know the answer.

I have been unable to get the sense of being a fraud out of my mind, and out of my prayers, though. And it has made my current situation feel worse. Thankfully, I’ve been blessed with colleagues who are so knowledgeable and understanding in matters of the spiritual life that I can turn to them for advice at the click of a button. And I got some great advice recently: “The last thing you need is to feel like you are somehow not doing all you need to do spiritually. Don’t feel like a fraud. God is pleased with you. Say it over and over, OK?

These kind words gave me the spiritual boost I needed while also allowing me to realize that the whole forgiveness process is indeed that — a process. One that can be long, especially in complicated circumstances. And as another colleague reminded me, “Often the first step in forgiving is to pray for the grace to want to forgive the person.”

Do I want to forgive the individual who caused us much pain? No … Not yet. But that’s the wonder of forgiveness. It can be a very difficult path, one in which we’re called to ask the Lord for help even though it seems to go against every instinct in our bodies. That is the beauty of the Lord’s Prayer and why I will continue to say it. It’s a reminder that I will forgive one day. I will eventually have the desire to forgive, if I keep praying, and God will be faithful and is pleased with my efforts.

 

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