Forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. Matthew 6:12
Like a contagious virus, sin has a way of infecting across generations. Those that are closest to us in our families are the one's most susceptible to collateral damage from our failures. The son who has been physically abused by his father is more likely to hurt his child. The daughter of an addict becomes an alcoholic. The child abandoned by an imprisoned parent channels their uncommunicated anger in unhealthy ways.
Individuals rebuilding lives from addiction and prison aren't the only ones that need to hear Jesus' reminder to forgive as we have been forgiven. We all need to understand that forgiveness is the only way to break the power of evil. The act of forgiveness breaks the destructive cycle of blame and retribution that develops naturally in the face of sin. Richard Rohr in his book Adam's Return notes, "Pain that is not transformed is transmitted." Forgiveness helps to transform the pain. Forgiveness lessens the impact of past memories on our current actions.
Yet, as one of our staff members shared the other morning, sometimes it's hard to forgive because it forces us to deal with our own wrongs. We may have been hurt deeply by a loved one in the past but the reason we can't forgive is because it forces us to face our own sin. Our staff member understood firsthand Jesus' gentle reminder that our hurts and our acts of hurting are related. So we must dive in and do the hard work of forgiving and seeking forgiveness. And we can watch Jesus' power transform our broken world.