Then Jesus said to her, "Your sins are forgiven."
~ Luke 7:48
We all carry "something" with us that can either keep us from moving forward from a situation, or even paralyzes us. For some, the words, "It's not your fault," can mean the difference between moving on, or a lifetime asking, "What if?"
A man I met years ago while a resident at M D Anderson Cancer Center, shared that he still blamed himself for an auto accident that killed his best friend. Over and over he would replay the events of the night. "If we had just left earlier," "If I had just turned the other way to go home," "If," "If," "If?"
In some way he rationalized his cancer diagnosis with the self-inflicted guilt that he continued to carry with him, even years after the accident. He simply would not allow for grace, or for forgiveness. Instead he accepted his condition as "justification."
His family and friends had tried to tell him that there was nothing that he could have done. Even his pastor had spent endless hours talking about how sometimes bad things happen, even to the best of people. Then one day a familiar face appeared. It was the father of the friend who had been killed.
The two had seen one another at the funeral, but time and distance had kept them from continuing to stay in touch. Two decades had passed. For both, the shared memory was like a bad dream they had both encountered on the same night.
The friend's father sat down on the bed with the man, and began to tell him what he and his family had been through since that night. Some of it was very hard to hear. The friend's mother had died, and the friend's father had struggled both personally and professionally. In the midst of telling the man of what had transpired over the years, he looked into the man's eyes and told him, "Not once have we ever blamed you. It was not your fault."
The man struggled to hear the words, but then they came again.
The friend's father remained for the next week as the man continued to decline and die.
The need to hear the words, "It's not your fault," are similar to the words we hear when Jesus shares, "Your sins are forgiven." What we do with these words can impact our life in ways that we cannot begin to imagine. Unless we accept them and allow the words to take up residence where that which has held us captive once lived, we will continue to carry it with us.
It's in this acceptance that we then realize the freedom we need to live life more abundantly, or in the case of the man, the ability to die peacefully.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.