Forgiveness and Power

Forgiveness is unfair because the one who is wronged is harmed far more than the one who does the wrong and yet the burden to forgive rests on the shoulders of the one wronged. Worse still, to hold a grudge is far more likely to deepen an internal wound than to inflict pain in return. Something deeply profound and necessary happens in a relationship when I have the strength to simply say, I screwed up and I’m sorry. To do so and to accept the consequences is one of the most deeply felt means of transferring power in a relationship.  To freely give power to the one wronged is a vital part of restoring the relationship because it creates the space in which the burden of forgiveness is carried, at least in part, by the offender as well as the offended.

White guilt (especially as it creates the space in which we cannot simply allow black lives matter to be a thing) is at least in part the inability of a race with power to imagine surrendering power for the sake of reconciliation. To fear surrender is understandable because giving up power in the world we have created is to lay bare the fact that we are too weak to solve the problems and heal the wounds ourselves. To admit weakness is the greatest betrayal possible of the American dream that all it takes is a little elbow grease and we can fix anything. To admit weakness is to risk shame in vulnerability.

But the refusal to admit weakness is the absence of strength. Strength is born in giving up control, not holding on tighter. Sometimes the greatest gift we can offer is the strength of humility embodied by receiving whatever hurt or anger is offered when we look a child of God in the eyes and say it’s my fault, I’m sorry.

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