Thursday, March 31, 2011

As people who have hearts that long for perfect love, we have to forgive one another for not being able to give or receive that perfect love in our everyday lives. Our many needs constantly interfere with our desire to be there for the other unconditionally. Our love is always limited by spoken or unspoken conditions. What needs to be forgiven? We need to forgive one another for not being God! - Henri Nouwen


6 comments:

Mercutio said...

This sort of thing I refer to as "the human condition." Each one of us is fraught with frailties and imperfections. We have to work around those things. Sometimes we do it gracefully, and at other times, not so much.
Further, we are temporal, and it is only through specific points in time that we can glimpse one another, but never the whole. And so, our understanding is necessarily limited.
Of course, this is in the best case scenario. Certain traits of character can easily interfere with such things.

Madcap said...

Yes. I'm really finding the truth of this in the past few years, that I have to be aware of my underlying fantasies and expectations in all relationships, and to live with the sadness of not-God in that context.

CONSTANTINE said...

Subversive wisdom from the good Mr. Buechner: "'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us’… Jesus is *not* saying that God’s forgiveness is conditional upon our forgiving others. In the first place, forgiveness that’s conditional isn’t really forgiveness at all, just fair warning; and in the second place, our unforgivingness is among those things about us that we need to have God forgive us most. What Jesus apparently *is* saying is that the pride that keeps us from forgiving is the same pride that keeps us from accepting forgiveness, and will God please help us do something about it.”

Madcap said...

Ah, Buechner... and forgiveness. I really wonder about forgiveness, whether it's real, in the same way that I wonder if love is real. Do we "forgive" when we stop caring enough to extract revenge? Or is forgiveness just the decision to not take the revenge we could? Looking back at how "forgiveness" has played out in my life and in the lives of the people around me, it seems more like self-conscious virtue than it does a measurable change of heart. But then, I'm pretty tough about letting things go. I figure when someone's done something atrocious, it's because it's in them to do that sort of thing, so forgiveness amounts to disengaging your proper self-preservation instinct. But I don't know...

But with the Nouwen quote, what really got me was the truth of the fact that I'm always looking for God, and it's so unfair of me to be angry with other people when they aren't It.

CONSTANTINE said...

Hmm...I just posted a comment here and it didn't take. Let me try again...I resonate with the notion of "self-conscious virtue." More a function of the will, rather than just a feeling validating the "rightness" of an action; not that the feeling part isn't nice to have, too. I would also say that a "proper self-preservation instinct" is not antithetical to forgiveness. Indeed, it may serve as the inverse of the "Golden Rule." If we can't appropriately "do unto ourselves," it's hard to imagine being able to do good by others.

What do you mean, "I wonder if love is real"? As in it may just be a biological/chemical response/reaction?

Madcap said...

No, more whether it's an actual trait or virtue. I think about this a lot. I can say that I love someone, but is it really that I have a certain set of behaviours that are part of my programming, in order to prevent abandonment, in order to make myself feel like a good person, etc. etc. There seems such a lot of self-interest in the feelings and behaviours that we call "love".