“Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
I recite or hear the Lord’s Prayer at least once weekly and lazily, regretfully, I have mentally skimmed over parts of it for years. But a few days ago this line struck me like it was brand new.
When I was younger, I practiced forgiveness in the purest sense. Nobody had really wronged me badly enough for me to despise them, or badly enough that I would be reluctant to move on. Come high school, I realized that there were some people (once friends) who might never be willing to forgive me, or others, for certain things. And in college I became one of those people, too.
I justified it. When someone wronged me, I was sure my unwillingness to forgive was socially acceptable. I called it an effort to stop letting people “walk” on me; an effort to stand up for myself. As a woman of the 21st century, I often feel encouraged to place blame where it’s truly due– to stop “making excuses” for others—which is not a bad thing.
But sometimes it was just an unwillingness to acknowledge my own faults that made me want to place every bit of blame on my “opponents.” I justified it under a guise and incorrectly categorized it as being feminist.
Sometimes it does take time and numbness for a thing to transform, and to gain renewed significance. While I justified my grudges, it was as though I’d forgotten that as a Christian, just as a human, it was best for my conscience if I could forgive everyone instead, regardless of what they did or how they made me feel. We can’t build our walls so high that, in an effort to strengthen and liberate ourselves, we lose our ability to see our own faults, or allow others ample room for error, in turn.
We forgive those who trespass against us, the Prayer says. It imparts this little promise of forgiveness like an exchange or a pact. Lord, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others.
I don’t mean to make it sound easy. Depending on the situation, naturally it can take quite a bit of time to move on. But I do mean to say that, if we want to be graced with forgiveness from anyone—be it our exes, our friends, siblings, or God—regardless of our faith, we need to be willing to grace others with real, genuine forgiveness, too.
The Lord’s Prayer originates from the New Testament’s Book of Matthew.