The Heart of Forgiveness

Originally posted on for the Critique Circle I remember a time when, as a child, I did what I was told. Not out of fear of the punishment I might face; rather, a fear of the disappointment I would read in my mother’s visage. Ground me, spank me, take away the television, just please, oh please mom, do not look at me that way. It would start in her warm yet concerned eyes that could stare right through my soul, and then would travel down into her chest where she would heave a saddened sigh. I always felt, and to this day I still do, that she took my mistakes and my failures very personally, more so than she did for my brothers. Maybe it is because I am her only daughter. Possibly it is because I am her first child. Most likely it is because my mother and I share a rare mother-daughter relationship. One that transcends parenthood and sisterhood and even the most intimate of friendships. Through life, with all of the interesting characters one meets, I have learned that disappointment comes far too easily. It is entirely normal to be regularly disappointed by strangers, friends, or family. I struggle now with being forgiving of church members or family that behave in ways that leave me feeling discouraged. I don’t understand why phone calls could not have been made out of courtesy, or why simple tasks go undone. I know in my heart that my frustrated feelings towards others are only outward expressions of how frustrated I am with myself. It does not matter how long I stay up, how hard I work, or how great and true my intentions may have been I still am a disappointment to myself. I only grieve over the behavior of others because of the guilt I have over my own actions. This has led to very difficult crisis of belief for me. God loves me and forgives me and does this knowing that I will always fall short of His Glory. Having children of my own I understand this type of love, even if I do not comprehend the depth that God gives this love. I understand how my mother loves me regardless of the disappointing moments I bring her. I understand why I should forgive others and continue to love them. We are all sinners and we are all going to hurt one another some time. My difficulty comes in accepting that I am, with unavoidable regularity, disappointing God. The image of Jesus’ disappointed stare fills me with such guilt and despair that I begin to question why God would want me? I am so imperfect, I am so unworthy. I fall short of so many standards that I hardly believe that my mother can see past my flaws, why would God desire to know me and love me and forgive me? Because He is God. He made me, He has a plan for me. He knew when he made me that I would falter. He knew all the painful things that would occur, and that I would turn my back on him in response. He knew that His gift of my children would turn me back around. He needs me this way, oversensitive, devoted and loyal. He needs all my faults because they compliment perfectly the gifts He gave me. I know that when the day comes that I must look into the eyes of a disappointed Lord, I will see the same heart of forgiveness that He put in the heart of my mother.

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