Tuesday, February 16, 2016
“This is how you are to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil."
(From Matthew 6)
The first time I attended church with my grandma E, I couldn't believe how similar to a Catholic mass it was. She attended a Lutheran church and since this was well before I had taken any classes in theology or history of the church - I just found the similarities a happy coincidence. But there was one glaring discrepancy (in my mind) on the word choice they used in the Lord's prayer:
"...and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
Reciting the Lord's prayer was the one part in the service where I thought I wouldn't need to read the little book in the pew, so I had put it down, only to get tripped up at that point. In a classic case of teenage insecurity, I actually felt embarrassed that I "goofed up the words" - hence why I even remember it now. But because I goofed, it got the perfectionist in me wondering, "What does the Bible actually say here?" Because whether it's trespassing or debts really matters!! Actually neither were things that I really understood at that age, at least, not beyond their literal meanings. I just wanted an answer to feel justified about my "mistake". My friend had a Living Bible, and it said
"...and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us."
Ah, sin. Now here was something my black-and-white thinking brain could understand. I know what sin is. Sin is breaking the 10 commandments. Sin is someone actively doing something bad to you.
The problem with this definition of sin is how un-nuanced it is. When I defined sin as "something someone actively does wrong" to me, then when my college roommate came back from class angry at something and she stomped around the house making life unbearable for all who lived there - well, then she wasn't "sinning against me." I mean, she wasn't mad at me, right? She wasn't actively hurting me, so I just needed to work on not letting her anger become my anger... right?
Eh... sure. Except that I didn't do that, I instead let it become a grudge that I held against her. And then I felt guilty about holding a grudge. And then I started to avoid being in the house with her. And then... I moved out. And the whole time, I couldn't see that I needed to acknowledge that she had hurt me and that forgiveness was necessary.
How different would things have been if I had a more nuanced definition of sin, or even better, a more thorough understanding of trespassing? Trespassing is...
...coming into my area without permission
...stepping on my toes
...getting all up in my space
Trespassing happens daily. And 90% of the time the actions don't fall into the "active doing of bad to me" category. I just cleaned this kitchen! My people, can we just put dirty dishes in the dishwasher?!? (Oh what? You're 3? Like that's an excuse.)
Now that I can identify all these little things as "trespassing", I'm learning that I can do two things:
1) I can acknowledge that a part of me has been trespassed against. I don't have to play the game of whether it's right for me to feel this way or not. I feel trespassed against - it is what it is. But, now, more importantly...
2) I can ask God for help in forgiving. Forgiving is...
...letting the other person off the hook.
...not holding it against them
...choosing to say, "No one owes me anything." (Hmm, debts/debtors... sounds familiar...)
Even on these little things, that can be very hard - but I remind myself the alternative to not forgiving is not worth it. I've been down that road, I know where it goes. (Yes, I may have just quoted the Matrix there.)
More importantly, I know my God will take care of me. After all, "The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want..."