Forgive Us Our Trespasses…
The Lord gave us his prayer in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke.
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
[For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.]
I grew up learning this prayer and praying it regularly, never really thinking about what I was praying about.
The bit of “forgiving our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us”, was said with the focus on the “forgive us our trespasses.” The rest of that bit, “As we forgive them that trespass against is,” was sort of an after thought – never really thought about deeply.
What escaped me, was why Jesus thought it so important that he included it in the Lord’s Prayer (Pater Noster). What was so important about forgiving those that trespass against us?
It was only after quite a number of years of experience, and a bit of pain about the lessons and hardships that life had dished out to me, that I realized two points:
- If we do not forgive those that trespass against us, the issues never leave us.
- It is far more difficult to truly forgive than what one would think.
If we do not forgive those that trespass against us, and truly forgive them, the thoughts become a festering sore in our minds and our unconscious. The pain drives our thoughts and our actions. We tend to think about the pain and wrong constantly. We nurse the pain, and before we know it, it has become a festering sore. The end result is that our relationship with the individual becomes poisonous, and our general behaviour is frequently inappropriate. We then become the victim of the “trespass against us”, for a second time.
The difficulty of truly forgiving others for something serious, is far greater than one would tend to think. The pain associated with a serious “trespass against us”, is greatly underestimated by those of us who have not yet had someone seriously “trespass against us.” Therefore we tend to be constantly reminded of the “trespass”. We become exposed, as a matter of life, to various triggers that unfortunately brings to memory the trespass and the associated pain.
Realizing the above, I now understand why the Lord included this in his prayer. I always understood why we needed to be forgiven, but I now know why we needed help with forgiving others. It was because it is so bloody difficult to truly forgive. It is so bloody difficult that without divine intervention, we have little chance of doing so, and of dealing with the pain and even psychological problems (mostly depression) associated with severe “trespasses.”
We also need to forgive others because if we don’t, our lives become poisonous. It becomes “less than” optimal. We as individuals are less productive, and we will struggle to lead self-actualized lives. There is always this barrier that can kick in at any moment.
So, next time someone “trespasses” against you, do realize that it is easy to say “I forgive you”. It is far more difficult to actually do that in a meaningful manner. Unless you have divine help.
Also remember that it is not just good for your soul to forgive others, but really important if you want to lead a fulfilled life, one in which you have self actualisation and peak performances.
And please do think about this when you act against others. You could be saving them a lot of grief and pain!