“Forgiving and God’s Forgiveness “, From Henri Nouwen (Freedom, Beloveds, Loving one Another)

Notes On Forgiveness, Love and Healing From Henri Nouwen

“To forgive is not natural. To forgive is to love. Without forgiveness there can be no love. A heart that doesn’t forgive is a heart doesn’t know love. It is a hardened heart that is callous, resentful, and full of rage.”

"Why must we forgive? It is a commandment from Jesus Christ. It is not a choice for us to forgive or not to forgive. If we want to please God we must forgive. Jesus says, “if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done.” (Matthews 6:15) In the Lord ’s Prayer we are told to pray thus “Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us.” (Matthews 6:12) St Paul says “You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you.”(Colossians 3:13) Jesus reminded Peter the numbers of times he has to forgive his brother, “’Lord, if my brother keeps on sinning against me, how many times do I have to forgive him? Seven times?’ ‘No, not seven times,’ answered Jesus, ‘but seventy times seven’” (Matthew 18:21-22)."

Forgiving Others is Liberation

“How do we forgive others? Many times we are unforgiving because of our own self-righteousness and pride. We think, “How could he have done this to me?” We forget that we have also sins against him many times. Jesus says “First take the log out of your own eyes, and then you will be able to see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”(Matthew 7:5) Maybe one of the quickest way to forgive is to ask God to reveal to us our own sins as well as seeing His great and abundant forgiveness toward us.”

“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.”

“I have often said, “I forgive you,” but even as I said these words my heart remained angry or resentful. I still wanted to hear the story that I was right after all; I still wanted to hear apologies and excuses; I still wanted the satisfaction of receiving some praise in return—if only the praise for being so forgiving!

God’s Forgiveness

But God’s forgiveness is unconditional; it comes from a heart that does not demand anything of itself, a heart that is completely empty of self-seeking. It is this divine forgiveness that I have to practice in my daily life. It calls me to keep stepping over all my arguments that say forgiveness is unwise, unhealthy, and impractical. It challenges me to step over all my needs for gratitude and compliments. Finally, it demands of me that I step over that wounded part of my heart that feels hurt and wronged and that wants to stay in control and put a few conditions between me and the one whom I am asked to forgive. . . . Only when I remember that I am the Beloved Child can I welcome those who want to return with the same compassion as that with which the Father welcomes me.”

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. – Colossians 3:12″

"I recall Rembrandt's painting, The Return of the Prodigal Son. The father holds his son, holds his daughter, and touches his daughter and says, You are my beloved. I'm not going to ask you any questions. Wherever you have gone, whatever you have done, and whatever people say about you, you're my beloved. I hold you safe in my embrace. I touch you. I hold you safe under my wings. You can come home to me whose name is Compassionate, whose name is Love.

If you keep that in mind, you can deal with an enormous amount of success as well as an enormous amount of failure without losing your identity, because your identity is that you are the beloved. Long before your father and mother, your brothers and your sisters, your teachers, your church, or any people touched you in a loving as well as in a wounding way0 long before you were rejected by some person or praised by somebody else- that voice has been there always. "I have loved you with an everlasting love." That love is there before you were born and will be there after you die."

That's where ministry stars, because your freedom is anchored in claiming your belovedness. That allows you to go into this world and touch people, heal them, speak with them and make them aware that they are beloved, chosen and blessed. When you discover your belovedness by God, you see the belovedness of other people and call that forth. It's and incredible mystery of God's love that the more you know how deeply you are love, the more you will see how deeply your sisters and your brothers in the human family are loved."

We, Who have been Acepted in forgiveness by God

“There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving. Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it. Why is receiving forgiveness so difficult? It is very hard to say, “Without your forgiveness I am still bound to what happened between us. Only you can set me free.” That requires not only a confession that we have hurt somebody but also the humility to acknowledge our dependency on others. Only when we can receive forgiveness can we give it.”

“What is forgiveness? Forgiveness is to allow the other person not to be God. Forgiveness says, “I know you love , me, but you don’t have to love me unconditionally, because no human being can do that.”

“We all have wounds. We are all in so much pain. It’s precisely this feeling of loneliness that lurks behind our successes, that feeling of uselessness that hides under all of the praise, that feeling of uselessness even when people say we are fantastic- that is what makes us sometimes grab onto people and expect from them and affection and love they cannot give.”

“If we want other people to give us something that only God can give, we become a demon. We say, “Love me!” and demanding and manipulative. It’s so important that we keep forgiving one another- not once in a while, but every moment of life. Before you have had your breakfast, you have already had three opportunities to forgive people because your mind is already wondering, What will they think about me? How will they use me?”

“To forgive other people for being able to give you only a little love – that is a hard discipline. To keep asking others for forgiveness because you can give only a little love- that’s a hard discipline too. …Community starts to be created when we come together in a forgiving and undemanding way.”

We become able to lift one another up and say, “You are a beloved”.

“In a community comes the mutual vulnerability in which we forgive each other and celebrate each other’s gifts.”

"Right in the midst of forgiveness comes celebration: we the beauty of people who are quite often considered marginal by society. With the forgiveness and celebration, community becomes the place where we call forth the gifts of other people, lift them up and say, "You are the beloved daughter and the beloved son."

Henri Nouwen Wikipedia

Henri Nouwen on Forgiveness