The Lord's PrayerThis particular line in the Lord’s Prayer has always made me cringe.  Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. That’s the translation that Presbyterians use. There is also the one more commonly used in the Catholic church — Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  Or a third version — Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

Not that the translation is as important as the meaning.  We will be forgiven as we forgive others.

The problem for me was that I grew up with someone who was verbally abusive.  This person wasn’t always a part of my life.  It depended on who lived where.  But when we were together, I knew what would eventually happen. As if the abuse wasn’t bad enough, I was taught that to truly forgive it, I had to put myself back into the situation time and time again. I knew what was coming and so did the adults in my life.  But that’s the way it goes.  God wants you to forgive no matter how many times you have to endure this.

Somehow, deep in my heart, I knew this was wrong.  God loves me.  Sure, God loves my abuser too, but that doesn’t take away from his love for me. Christ stopped the woman from being stoned. He didn’t tell her to suck it up and shrug it off.

A few weeks ago, our adult Sunday school was doing a session on Biblical forgiveness. In this session we learned that forgiveness and reconciliation are two different things.  Forgiveness can be accomplished by one person. I’m not going to act against you. I’m laying down my anger and my hate. Reconciliation takes two because it requires restoration of trust.  You don’t need to achieve reconciliation to be forgiven.

My family was less than thrilled when I made it clear that my participation in this was over and done.  It changed the family dynamic, but that was okay because it was a dynamic that needed to change.  I was a young adult when I took this step.  I am still coming to an understanding of reconciliation vs forgiveness.  I suspect it will be a life long lesson.

Don’t hold back on forgiveness because you can’t expect reconciliation. Give yourself this gift.  Lay down the hate.  Lay down the rage.  Once you are free of these burdens, God can and will take you into his forgiving embrace. It’s what He’s wanted all along.  Forgive us our Debts…