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Forgiveness: A Constant Attitude

Within the last week, a family member made a rude remark to me, someone cut me off in traffic, and I wasn’t as supportive of a friend as I could have been.

As always, opportunities for forgiveness abound! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.” This makes me pause. I think I have always considered forgiveness to be a situational response, and the thought of it being an attitude, or a way of life I embody, releases forgiveness from the small box I didn’t realize I had put it in.

The dictionary says that an attitude is a way of thinking or feeling that gets reflected in our behavior. It is something that affects how I think and how I act.

What would it look like for me to practice forgiveness as a constant attitude? It may mean that I try to see the world through softer eyes, smoothing out the hard edges of my quick judgments. I often don’t know the pain within another that may be contributing to their offending behavior.

Everyone has moments when we are less than our best. In our humanness, none of us completely avoids making selfish choices and wrong decisions that cause pain in another. Remember the exchange between Peter and Jesus when Peter asks if forgiving someone seven times is enough, and Jesus’ response is not 7 but 77! There is no limit to forgiveness. It is an ongoing attitude that each of us is called to embody!

Perhaps an attitude of forgiveness implies there is an openness in my heart to becoming an increasingly maturing conduit of kindness and mercy—a growing recognition that I am swimming in mercy and love every minute of every day. Can I allow it to move through me, giving to others what I am continuously receiving?

Upon reflection, forgiveness as a situational response now feels small and limited. An attitude of forgiveness, however, releases the constraints and liberates me from making forgiveness all about me. It frees my mind and heart from taking things personally and increases the depth of my inner freedom.

This doesn’t mean my heart won’t ache or my blood won’t boil. But perhaps, in the midst of the hurt and anger, an attitude of forgiveness allows me to be a bit more aware that I’m being held in the embrace of steadfast Love . . . not the feeling or emotion of love . . . but the energy of Love vibrating through all of creation, empowering me to forgive and moving the universe toward wholeness.

Holy Mystery,
thank you for loving me into being.
Open my eyes and my heart
to see You in everyone I encounter.
May your love and mercy flow
into the world through me,
allowing forgiveness to be
part of who I am rather than something I do.

This story was featured in:

WINTER 2023: Many Faces, One HEART

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