Sunday, January 1, 2012


It seems as if each year we all feel tempted to begin doing something "more", start doing something "less" or vow to stop doing one thing or another all together.  We begin with a bang and end with a whimper.  I have often found myself in the precarious position of lacking the intestinal fortitude to stick with whatever I have promised myself I will do differently and in the lack of willpower, strength, aptitude or commitment; I feel rather like a failure when again I end the year with that extra weight, a potty mouth and a quicker temper than I'd like. 

I did some research to find out if I could isolate the masochist that conceptualized the infamous New Year's Resolution and while I could not identify one person, it seems as if the origins begin in people of faith.  In Judaism there is Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, where one can reflect upon the wrongdoings of the year and end with offering and receiving forgiveness.  In Christianity, there is the season of Lent where people can sacrifice something to hopes to gain insight into all that Christ gave in death for forgiveness of sins.  Both religions feature forgiveness as a hallmark of making oneself a better person. 

I know that the beginning of a new year seems to give us the opportunity to start anew, with a fresh start and a happier outlook than we had when the previous year ended; however, I find it compelling to look at the seemingly faith based origins of this "resolution" process over indulging myself in flights of fancy about the resolutions that year after year remain elusive. 

Forgiveness.  What a loaded word.  Starting the year with the goal of living everyday forgiven and forgiving, now there is a resolution that sounds worthy of the battle it takes to see a resolution through the 365 days in one calendar year.  Forgiveness.  Who among us can walk with our heads held high,confident that we do not bear any ill will, unforgiveness or down right disdain for a person or persons in our life?  I guarantee, if you responded with "me", you are in short supply.  I cannot and will not offer myself as an upright example of forgiveness, for I often harbor ill will, unforgiveness and down right disdain for multiple people, especially while caught in traffic, crowded grocery store aisles and sometimes at the family dinner table.  Aghast?  Just honest. 

Most days I am fairly confident that my sins are forgiven because of my faith, belief and steadfast reliance on my Lord and Savior; however, when days come and strike me down as a disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish sinner...I do have pangs of doubt.  I have learned that on those days it is best to rely on the word of God to root out my doubt, in His word I find comfort and reassurance that, YES you are disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish BUT, I LOVE YOU ANYWAY!  To love regardless of fault, wrongdoing or indiscretion is something I cannot easily give another person, and yet I take it in without a second thought.  There is that selfishness rearing it's ugly head again. 

To forgive another person is to set free the guilt, anger, fear, disappointment, resentment or bitterness, some of which we cling to like the winning Powerball lottery ticket.  What would it mean to you to forgive that person that broke your heart?  Or the parent that neglected, abused or ignored you?  Or the friend that walks in and out of your life at whim?  Or the spouse that was unfaithful?  What would it mean to forgive yourself for being a disgusting, immoral, mean and selfish sinner? 

I have a relationship in my life that I struggle with almost daily and the struggle is rooted in my ability to forgive, or not forgive as the case may be.  I do not particularly enjoy any part of this relationship and one would think that I would do ANYTHING to resolve it so that I can summarily end this relationship and move on with my life.  However, as in everything in life, it just simply is not that easy.  To forgive this person would free me from so much anger, hurt, resentment and bitterness but I find it is so damn hard to forgive someone that has yet to seek my forgiveness, yet to apologize, yet to accept responsibility for their, do I need to get off my high horse, or what!?!  I know how self-righteous this sounds and yes, I am aware of my own need to adjust my attitude.  I am not proud of feeling this way, but that is why it has been so hard to forgive.  I think we all want to know that the person that wronged us understands why we are hurt, disappointed, etc and maybe even show some remorse...before we can forgive.  And then there is self-forgiveness; how do you forgive yourself?  Self-loathing aside, there are circumstances in everyday life that we wish we handled differently, better, etc.  We hurt others, say things we regret, lose our temper, indulge in selfishness, gluttony, lust and greed - how do we forgive ourselves? 

Therein lies the true challenge of forgiveness that makes this a worthy resolution in my mind.  To forgive without being asked, to forgive without remorse, to forgive the same transgression time and time again to forgive ourselves for falling short on a minute by minute basis...that is to forgive like our God.  Forgiveness with out a price, without an apology, without the grudge, without the self-loathing...what a gift to be given and to give.  To offer and receive forgiveness, can one occur without the other?  Most faiths ascribe to the belief that true forgiveness can only be received once you have yourself forgiven others, so that is the real litmus test in my own forgiveness - can I forgive first? 

So, rather than "resolve" to lose weight or stop swearing or start exercising regularly, I figure the best resolution I can make is to forgive first so that I can in turn receive forgiveness.  Alexander Pope said, "To err is human, to forgive divine."  Wise man.  I admit this will not be an action I will ever succeed at on my own, that divine forgiveness is not something I can ever grant, but I can work towards that goal with the Lord's ability to forgive me at least once every second as my guide. I resolve to forgive in 2012.

I pray 2012 gives each and every one of us more blessings than not, more smiles than grimaces, more laugh wrinkles than worry lines, more opportunities to hug, love, forgive and be forgiven.  Happy New Year, here's to 2012 being better than the last and another chance to try to get more right.

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