When you haven’t forgiven those who’ve hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do forgive, you start walking forward.
28th Jul 2014
Virginia Harris, C.S.B.
* Photo below – “Forgiven” – Courtesy of allposters.com
What a summer.
Instead of lazy, relaxed and quiet days, the world appears to be exploding in wars and violence. News reports, in an attempt to explain what is going on, frequently point to underlying and unresolved historical feuds – many lasting decades and even centuries.
The patterns of anger, hatred, and retribution are so tangled and emotional, the temptation might be to give up on finding solutions, and give in to war until one side wears down the other. This time.
But this isn’t really a ‘victory’ it seems to me. The real victory would be to break the mental cycle of anger-hatred-revenge. “Easy to say,” you might be thinking, “very hard to do.” Yes, if one is relying only on the emotion of human will and self-justification to provide guidance.
When the desire to be free of mental anguish is stronger than the willingness to be a victim – to be held hostage by anger and hate – then one is finally open to BE what one really is: the inherently wise and compassionate spiritual offspring of divine Love. This true BE-ing overcomes emotional human will and self-destructive thinking that can lead to violent reactions.
In the Old Testament there is an insightful story of a revered, heroic, and powerful leader who is on his way with hundreds of men to kill a prosperous tribal leader and all his people because he has been publicly humiliated by the tribal leader. But a woman – gently, courageously, and insistently – changes the expected tragic outcome.
The biblical account is very clear as to who is the aggrieved (and allegedly justified) party in this case: David, already blessed of God and known as a heroic warrior, had his men protect the shepherds of Nabal, a tribal leader, who were shearing thousands of sheep out in the fields. In return, David asked if Nabal could provide some food and drink for his men.
Instead of an offering of thanks and good will, Nabal hurled insults at the messengers and refused to share any of his bounty. Upon hearing this, David reacted by ordering his men to “Strap on your swords!” And off they went to murder Nabal and his tribe in retribution.
Fortunately, one of the shepherds who had been protected by David approached Nabal’s wife Abigail, and confirmed all the good that David and his men had done for the tribe. They had earned the blessing of the tribe, not insults. “You must do something, or else there is big trouble for all of us,” the shepherd said. It was common knowledge that Nabal was impossible to deal with, but now he had crossed a fateful line.
Immediately, without telling her husband, Abigail gathered up a feast of food carried by donkeys and servants and traveled to intercept David before he came to the tribe’s encampment. But even more important than provisions she came with humility, respect, wisdom, blessing, and the recognition of who David really was: the anointed of God, the loved of God, and the divinely appointed leader of the children of Israel. Thisspiritual birthright is what she knew she would see.
When Abigail greets David with fearless love, conviction, and honor, she reminds him who he is and of his purpose in life:
“…God is at work in [you], developing a rule solid and dependable. [You fight] God’s battles! As long as you live no evil will stick to you. When God completes all the goodness he has promised [you] and sets you up as prince over Israel, [you] will not have this dead weight in [your] heart, the guilt of an avenging murder.” I Samuel 25, The Message Bible
In other words, David, be what you are!
Waking from the mesmerizing nightmare of anger and revenge, David cries, “Blessed be God, the God of Israel. He sent you to meet me! And blessed be your good sense! Bless you for keeping me from murder and taking charge of looking out for me.”
David’s desire to yield to the will of God – to be good and do only righteous justice – instead of his personal will of self-justification broke the victimizing cycle of hatred.
Abigail is described as a woman of good understanding and beautiful countenance. This depth and strength of character in one woman was sufficient to turn away all the hatred, anger, and fear of powerful men.
I believe we all have the strong, invincible spirit of Abigail divinely original to each of us, and thus are able to see clearly the spiritual birthright, purpose, and rule of divine law that heals every situation. And we all are anointed with the spirit of David to be receptive to the angelic wake-up call that breaks the cycle of anger.
Be Abigail, be David…Remember what you are, be what you are. This is victory.