Mercy Lets Go
Why such a gap between our belief in God’s capacity to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and our refusal to let Him?
My friend Dana shared about how she fell into a lesbian relationship while discerning life in the convent. Despite multiple confessions and absolutions, she could not forgive herself. Torment, not trust in Jesus, prevailed in her life until she stopped and agreed with Jesus. What He accomplished for her at Calvary trumped what she did. Period. Intellectual assent dropped into her depths and she dropped the stone she held toward herself.
Dana had yet to forgive herself. Yes, she knew Jesus released her in some technical sense, but she could not stop defining herself as a moral felon. The sword of judgment, not the Cross of Christ, hung over her.
A demonic trick? Maybe. An effort of our stubborn fallen humanity to atone for ourselves? Perhaps. We may well derive some perverse comfort from a sustained effort to feel bad about acting badly. Regardless, when we practice the presence of our failures rather than Almighty Mercy, we mistrust Jesus. We cast a shadow over His tender face and refuse the love that makes all things new.
Dana shared how she finally broke as He broke through to loving her. She received mercy where she needed it most. With His help, Dana opened the trap door of her heart and let the garbage she had enshrined tumble out, away, never to be brooded over again. She lives under one shadow now—the outstretched arms of Jesus who gave all to free her. Her lovely countenance reflects His.
Mercy freed her to let go. Dana shared all this in the context of forgiving others. She said that unless one has been forgiven at core, it is difficult, maybe impossible to do what Jesus asks and ‘forgive others from the heart’ (Matt. 18: 35). The garbage gathered around our trap doors may well block the flow of mercy toward those who have most damaged us. Dana shared new freedom in releasing beloved enemies through the mercy that now courses through her veins.
This Lent, I urge you not to linger around the mess you have made. Confess it, yes, then take that forgiveness and say to yourself: ‘As Jesus has forgiven me, so I forgive myself.’ Extend that mercy to all whose sin still ails you. Only way to heal.