for everyday living
Br. David Vryhof invites us to the challenging, essential practice of forgiveness.
TRANSFORMATION IN LOVE
Forgiveness is essential to healthy human relationships. The French Jesuit and theologian, François Varillon, once said, “People cannot live together unless they forgive each other just for being who they are.” We all need to forgive and be forgiven, over and over again, if our life together is to be life-giving, and if we are to be the agents of healing and reconciliation in the world that Christ calls us to be.
Sometimes it is easy to forgive. We find no difficulty in setting aside the incident and moving on. But at other times we may find it extremely difficult to forgive the one who has hurt us. We may believe that we should forgive; we may even want to forgive. But we recognize that our heart is so full of anger and pain that we cannot yet say, “I forgive you,” and mean it. A declaration of forgiveness at this point would be dishonest and premature. In circumstances like these, we can at least set ourselves on a path towards forgiveness, recognizing that arriving at forgiveness is a desirable and necessary goal, not only because we are commanded to forgive one another “seventy times seven,” but also because forgiveness will rid our hearts of the toxic presence of resentment, anger, and bitterness.
In this article, I hope to raise some questions that one who is on the path towards forgiveness may want to consider. Hopefully, honest engagement with these questions will enhance and facilitate the process of healing so that we may arrive at our destination (actual forgiveness) as soon as possible, recognizing that the time required will vary, depending on the depth of the wound.
We see in the Gospels that Jesus always calls us by name: Peter, John, Mary. We'd love to know your name.
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About Br. David Vryhof
Br. David Vryhof, SSJE was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He holds a B.A. degree in Elementary Education from Calvin College and a M.A. in Education of the Deaf from Gallaudet University. He taught deaf children at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf in Providence for six years, and trained teachers for the deaf at the MICO Teachers’ College in Kingston, Jamaica, for three years before coming to the Society in 1985. He studied at Duke Divinity School and at General Theological Seminary, earning an M.Div. degree in 1993. After serving a small church on the east side of Detroit, he returned to SSJE in 1995 and was life-professed in 1997. He is an experienced retreat leader and spiritual director and has taught throughout the United States, as well as in Africa and in Israel/Palestine.