Monday, November 16, 2015

Fear, Forgiveness and Prayer

The Mystery within...
Fear, forgiveness and prayer have been on my mind with the recent mayhem wrought by the terrorists in France.  Damning talk of revenge has me longing for prayers for the perpetrators of those heinous acts and prayers for the rest of us to accept our anger and fear that can start us on our work to forgive.  I know something of prayer, fear and forgiveness for they threaded throughout my memoir.  Some excerpts from “God Never Hurries:”

I sensed fear was at the heart of my father’s need to control, and his fears undoubtedly were heightened by my mother’s growing dementia and the fact that she had been the center of all things relative to a functioning home. 

…I felt empathy for his fears along with a sense of futility in any attempted dialogue. 

…I was also truly scared.  Scared for my mother’s and my safety. 

…fear is more than fight or flight.  Guile and cleverness are just two of many ways to address fear; and fear keeps the world in check.  [Adapted from “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker.]

[I attended] …a two day workshop on forgiveness sponsored by a Unitarian church in Milwaukee featuring Robert Enright and Susan Freedman from the International Forgiveness Institute.  I had previously heard them tell of their mission on public radio—to help people gain knowledge about forgiveness and to use that knowledge for personal, group, and societal renewal.

It was comforting to learn that forgiveness is a process; the first step is believing it is a possibility.  We can then look to our Pride, the negative kind, which blocks the process.  Denial of anger was cited as a clue to Pride and an obstacle to forgiveness.  It takes humility to admit being hurt.  It is humbling to admit woundedness.  Therefore, it can be healthy to get angry and Prideful to deny it.  Pride was said to be a formidable foe for we are very unaware of it.  I also learned forgiveness is most needed where things are least safe; and you need to be in a safe place to work on forgiveness.

Forgiveness benefits were many and were said to come from the heart and the head and resulted in emotional control.  It was said true forgiveness is not trivial for it transforms who we are.  Freedom and a more real view of life are its fruits.  Forgiveness is also giving up resentment and coming to view the perpetrator with compassion.

Like Teyve in Fiddler on the Roof, I had many informal conversations with God.  I am called to pray for my enemies out of love--though love does not preclude justice for the wronged--it just makes me more whole.  And I learned to trust God's slow work in me.  

What if we all became more whole by praying for our enemies out of love?

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