Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. – Matthew 6:12
Father Henri Nouwen wrote, “Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly.” (From his You Are the Beloved)
How do we love poorly?
How would you answer that?
- Using others for selfish purposes
- Refusing to admit our mistakes while blaming others
- Refusing to empathize and give others benefit of the doubt
- Holding grudges instead of letting them go
- Enforcing the letter of the law blindly and coldly
- Stereotyping, labeling, judging
- Using resources today without regard for future generations
- Letting privilege dictate justice
- Being quicker to express anger than understanding
- Prioritizing religion as “me and Jesus” instead of serving “the least of these”
Which would you add? (feel free to comment)
I came up with this list fairly quickly. That’s because I’m personally well acquainted with loving poorly. Yes, as Henri said, “all people love poorly.”
Jesus, the great physician, knew the medicine for the disease of poorly-loving. We pray it every time in the Lord’s Prayer.
“Forgive” comes from a Latin word meaning, “to give completely, without reservation.”
Forgive means giving empathy; respect; peace; dignity; a second chance.
We who poorly love do so because we take and protect instead of give and invite. It’s such a hard, ingrained habit to break. Maybe that’s why we had to receive the Holy Spirit to take Jesus’ words, put them into our hearts, and help us live them.
May God empower us to love as Jesus loves, knowing that in giving we see a different, deeper, richer side of life.
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