Paradox, Part III: Death Leads to Life

A few thoughts today on forgiveness:

Brené Brown said that Christ’s love began to make more sense to her when she heard a leader at her church explain that in order for forgiveness to occur, something has to die.  There has to be a death—of our expectations, our pride, our thirst for revenge, our control—before there can be real forgiveness.  But Brown says that her research has revealed that our culture is deeply afraid of grief and shame–two emotions that weigh heavily when forgiveness is in the balance.

Simone Weil writes, “The forgiveness of debts is spiritual poverty, spiritual nakedness, death.”  But we want to avoid the “spiritual nakedness” we’d feel if we released the debt another owed to us.  We also avoid asking to be forgiven for the same reason: our fear of the nakedness of humility.  We imagine humility and shame to be interchangeable.

But unforgiveness is well-disguised death of another sort.  It is a slow death—a secret calcifying of parts of our hearts and souls; it is another form of grief.  Grief that is unexpressed and unprocessed.  It is slow poison.  It never satisfies.  It empties and asphyxiates.  And it all happens as we walk about, deluded by a false sense of control.

Think of the ramifications of this upon our relationships.

Which death, then, shall we choose?  Only one death will set us free.  One is chosen out of courage and trust; one out of fear and grasping.  Only one death is followed by resurrection.  Weil’s statement above finishes this way: “If we accept death completely, we can ask God to make us live again, purified from the evil in us.”

Think of the ramifications of this upon our relationships.