Living in Grace and Forgiveness
Living in Grace and Forgiveness….
My Sunday school class has been focusing on membership and what it means not only to be a member of the United Methodist church but what it means to be a member of a group, team, club etc. Like everything in life, my faith journey is an ever evolving lesson. At the end of our study, our church will welcome new members into our church. It is an exciting time to say the least. Focusing on what it means to be a member of something has brought about great discussion and deep thinking on my part. While I am not a theological scholar and do not possess all of the answers to the many questions that are asked, I am able to share my thoughts and my heart openly and honestly with my class; with my tribe so to speak. Quite often I am asked about my faith, my life choices, and thoughts on social issues and how it all plays into my daily life. On any given day my answers will vary, because quite honestly I believe that life changes us and our thoughts and ideas as we learn and grow. As children we are taught to believe and live as our parents, which isn’t a bad thing; it’s all we know. As adults it’s necessary to figure out who we are and what we believe for ourselves. It’s not a bad thing; it’s how we grow.
Recently I read a story about an African tribe who has an amazing way of rehabilitating people who have committed a wrongdoing against someone (or their property) in their tribe. First of all the “offender” must accept the consequences for what he has done. It is important that he take responsibility for his actions. An appropriate form of punishment is determined, and the person who has committed the wrongdoing bears the responsibility that comes with it. On the day on which the terms of the punishment have been satisfied, the “offender” stands in the center of a circle in the middle of the village with every man in the tribe around him. Every single person in the circle tells the “offender” some memory he has of his goodness. Every good trait of that man is spoken aloud to him. The circle remains intact until everyone has shared their thoughts. And once everyone has spoken the forgiven man is embraced and welcomed back into the circle. Forgiveness is given. Grace is given. Life goes on.
Quite often relationships are compromised because we cannot get past a wrongdoing or hurt that someone has caused us. We tend to forget that we are human and make mistakes. We hurt people, not because we want to but because quite simply we are human. Sometimes we forget that the mistake or the regrettable behavior does not define us; it’s not who we are. And sometimes the people with whom we are in a relationship with forget that too. Relationships fall apart because we fail to extend grace and forgiveness. We leave our tribe because of shame and/or pride. We allow ourselves to focus on the negative forgetting all that is positive and good.
The example of grace and forgiveness by the African tribe is a reminder that we must continue to live in community in spite of our differences with one another. Learning to deal with conflict requires a commitment on both parties in order to live a purposeful rewarding life. We should remind ourselves of all of the good qualities we possess; our talents, passions; kindnesses, successes. Accepting our flaws is necessary, however it is also necessary to accept our good qualities and use them to be an example of grace and forgiveness. We should be proud of who we are, what we do and strive to be the people we were created to be. Pastor and author Rick Warren once said “And you know, when you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.” Be forgiving. Be graceful. Be well.
I am proud to introduce a new column to Madame Deals! I think we all need a touch point a place we can go to be inspired. Karla is my children’s teacher, a good friend, and a person with a heart of gold. I hope that her words will inspire you to do more. We are only as good as the people we surround ourselves with. It is important to listen with your heart and proceed with your eyes open. Enjoy!