9 "This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation,but deliver us from the evil one. ' 14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  (Matthew 6:9-15 NIV)

I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that at some point in your life you have either been faced with the challenge of forgiving someone, or asking for forgiveness yourself.  Maybe both.  In either scenario, this may not have been an easy thing to do.

What makes forgiving hard?  This answer is probably different for everyone.  I don't even know if I can answer that question myself but I do believe that to forgive (ourselves or others) does not necessarily mean that what happened should be forgotten.  Hopefully a lesson, no matter how painful, is learned and one can begin to move forward; a better, stronger and changed person.

Forgiveness between any two people may not always be a "two way street".  Just because someone asks for forgiveness doesn't mean it will be given.  This can sometimes be tough to swallow making it hard to even forgive ourselves for what was done.  I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to forgiveness.  I have a hard time forgiving myself thinking, " ... well, if they can't forgive me, I don't deserve to be forgiven."  Thankfully, God sees otherwise and I am reminded that yes, I am worth forgiving myself.  If I don't, I will be the one "stuck" and that is a tough place to be.

In reflecting on forgiveness and searching for what are hopefully the right words, I ran across a quote by Reinhold Niebuhr ... "Forgiveness is the final form of love."  We are all human.  We are going to make mistakes.  Some will affect only ourselves, others will ripple further than we ever imagined.  Fortunately for me (and you), God forgives us all our sins and loves us unconditionally.  Don't we owe it to ourselves to forgive and love not only others, but also ourselves?

Forgiveness ... it is an on going process and can bring forth a multitude of emotions.  God gave us the power of prayer and the reassurance that he can heal our wounds, we just have to give it all to Him.  May you, along with God, find the ability to forgive and be forgiven.

Dear Lord,  Please forgive us for the mistakes we've made that have not only hurt us, but others.  Please remind us to think before we speak and act.  Thank you for your unconditional love and forgiveness and for reminding us that we too are worth forgiving ourselves.  In your name, Amen.

April Schauer

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