Compassion,  Acceptance, Understanding, Forgiveness

For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.   (Mt. 7:3)

My mother had been ill for a long time.  When I became worried that she could die with only a minor cold, I decided to visit her so that we could say all that needed to be said. On our last night together I addressed a painful issue that we had avoided. Twenty-five years before she had tried to commit suicide.

I began: “Mom, I’d like to talk about your suicide attempt.”

After she said I could proceed, I said, “I was really angry when you tried to take your life and I judged you for a long time.”

She said, “I knew you were angry, and I felt judged.”

I said, “I’m not angry and I don’t judge you anymore.”

She said, “I’m very grateful to hear that.”

I said, “I’ve recently gone through a really lonely time, and I now understand how someone could be in so much pain that they just wanted to die. Would you please forgive me for being so angry and for judging you so harshly?”

She said, “I do forgive you.  You’ve given me a great gift.”

Today I encourage you to give someone a great gift.  What are some of the great gifts we can give? Compassion.  Acceptance. Understanding. Forgiveness.

If you’ve been judging someone for years, give her and yourself a great gift—just stop.  Your judgment isn’t doing her any good, you any good, or your relationship any good.

If you’ve been waiting to forgive someone until they apologized in just the right way, give him and yourself a great gift—just do so.

If you’ve held off saying you are sorry to someone because you weren’t ready to admit your fault, give her, him, and yourself a great gift—just get over your false pride and do it.

The conversation I recounted above happened on the last night I saw my mother.  So much would’ve been lost for her and for me if we hadn’t had that talk.  That night was a great gift to us.

Again, I encourage us to give someone a great gift. The great gift we give to them will also be a great gift to ourselves.  I think that’s part of what Jesus means when he says, “…the measure you give will be the measure you get.”

Reflection Questions:

  1. Who is on your list? That is the list of those you need to forgive, those you need to apologize to, those whose forgiveness you need to accept, those you need to stop judging, even condemning?
  1. Once you have made up your list, when are you going to begin shortening it?
  1. The shorter our list, the easier it will be for us to make peace with our life and our death. How do you want to let go of this life? How do you want to be greeted into the next one?


2 thoughts on “Compassion,  Acceptance, Understanding, Forgiveness

  1. Mike Armstrong

    Great stuff Jim, anyone who understands the 12 steps knows this is where the “healing begins”.

    When I carry resentment, a cold heart and anger, I am reminded of what I was taught years ago by a brilliant therapist/pastor………… to try to understand that person’s family of origin and how it may have molded them. Case in point, I recently worked with a guy who had a Clinton like “what is the definition of his” mindset, everything was qualified, measured for political purposes, sold up non stop etc and it ate me up.

    I then spoke with him one night and he told me how his father was an attorney and began telling me as to what was modeled to him and how to be careful as you “really can’t trust anyone”

    It explained why he behaved the way he did……………. That is at some level, trying to understand what “empathy” really is. imo (in my opinion)

  2. Linda Huff

    Sometimes you don’t even know you need to forgive someone until a sudden memory pops up, or you see a face in the crowd that triggers a memory. I think of these as nudges from God.

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