Recently, I read the story of a young woman coming to terms with her past who had gotten a tattoo that said in calligraphy “Lord, forgive me”. The person telling the story said “…but God’s forgiveness is easy. She had that the moment she asked.” And, that’s true, because God forgives us for our sins, mistakes and boners as soon as we commit them. It is on the human end of the equation that forgiveness is harder to come by.
Forgiving others and ourselves is, for some reason, extremely hard. In Christopher Moore’s novel “The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror”, one of the characters says “People, generally, suck”, which is my mantra at times. And, this aversion to forgiveness is one reason why I feel that way. Because of it, we clamor for blood whenever a crime has been committed. And, as in the case of Tamerlan Tsarnaev (who’s already dead), we may even go so far as to deny them a final resting place. Of course, that doesn’t matter to him; he’s dead. It does matter to his family, however, who are only guilty by association. I suppose that’s their fault, though; they should’ve have the forethought to throw him to the wolves before he decided to become a terrorist.
For most of us, the person we find hardest to forgive is ourselves. I really don’t like to think about what it means for my particular pathology, but I’m still beating myself up for things I did as a teenager. I’m cursed with an excellent long term memory, so no one knows better than me what a miserable son of a bitch I’ve been in the past. And, my twisted little brain takes great pleasure in reminding of that every chance it gets.
Forgiveness, however, is at the heart of Christianity. In Matthew, when Peter asks “Lord, how many times should I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Should I forgive as many as seven times?”, Jesus answers “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.” Later, Jesus asks God to forgive his persecutors as he is executed on the cross. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do that.
It’s possible our reluctance to forgive comes from the Old Testament and Mosaic Law; eye for an eye and all that. It’s certainly an easier way to approach the subject. But, wasn’t the whole point of Jesus to give us a better way to live? He brought a new covenant, one built on love and forgiveness. That means everyone is forgiven. Not just those like us, those we like or those we agree with; Everyone. That includes Tamerlan Tsarnaev as well as ourselves.