Feeling the hope of forgiveness even in Orlando

 

The outspoken demand for progress is the first step toward progress, and there are mounting signs that that is happening in a way that cannot be easily turned back.

Mark Sappenfield, CSPS

 

‘Father, how can I forgive?’

From the July 2016 issue of The Christian Science Journal

For me, Jesus’ words while he was being crucified present the highest example of forgiveness. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Is it possible that his willingness to forgive helped him overcome the most challenging experience of his life—the need to overcome death itself? What he understood and saw spiritually enabled him to forgive his murderers, and it undoubtedly was essential to his consummate demonstration for humanity—his resurrection.

Then one day, a number of years after I’d entered the full-time practice of Christian Science, I was suddenly struck with the realization that if I wanted to be a healer, I simply couldn’t carry this hatred around any longer. This sent me to my knees in prayer with a heartfelt cry for help, “Father, how can I forgive when such wrong was done?” God answered that prayer by leading me on a profound spiritual journey that brought me to a place of peace and freedom, where I was able to completely forgive the one who was involved.

Once I had reached the point where I desired to forgive, the next step involved how I viewed this individual. A drastic shift needed to take place. As I prayed for inspiration, it became clear that I needed to overcome my view of him as a cruel, unloving, angry, out-of-control mortal and to recognize that he, too, was God’s child. This wasn’t something I could just decide to do. I needed the power of divine Love to touch my heart. A merely intellectual exercise didn’t work. For days I prayed for God to show me His man, and to transform my heart so I could see in my relative the good, spiritual nature God had given him, his only true nature.

“What about those hurtful things? How could he have done them?” Here is where the compassion began to shine through. Mrs. Eddy tells us clearly that evil “is neither person, place, nor thing, but is simply a belief, an illusion of material sense” (Science and Health,p. 71). It is a lie about God and God’s man. With the shift in my thought from believing that man is a hurtful mortal to seeing he is, in reality, good, came the realization that my relative had given in to impulses that were not really part of him. What I had been experiencing was not his real identity, the one God had given him, but an impostor—the imposition of mortality with all its darkness and misery, which disappears in the light of spiritual truth.

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