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KEEPING THE FAITH | Forgiveness isn’t the same as reconciliation

Every one of us needs forgiveness, mercy and grace from God. Yet we must extend the same acts to others. We need to forgive others, showing them mercy and grace as well.
RevLewisMacklin032020
The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin

I used to think that whenever I got hurt, it was my responsibility to fix the relationship and initiate the healing process.

However, I’ve learned that’s not always the case. Oftentimes my sole obligation is to simply forgive the person who hurt me. Let’s be clear, forgiveness isn’t the same as reconciliation.

You can forgive someone, get over the hurt and still move on with your life. You don’t have to stay attached to toxic people and situations which constantly cause you pain. 

My long-held motto remains, "I can forgive you but still don't have to fool with you!"

Even if it's a close family member, you need to create and maintain healthy boundaries. Stop enduring forced interactions that vex your being. Avoid the external pressures of other’s opinions to compromise those boundaries. 

Forgiveness is a conscious choice that requires deliberate action. Bishop David Thomas recently expounded upon this concept. He shared from the Lord’s model prayer found in Matthew 6:12. “Forgive us (me) as we (I) have forgiven others.” 

The edict “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors" is not a reference to one’s financial obligations. It means asking God to forgive us of all our wrongdoing in every way. However, scripture is clear and you cannot escape it: We cannot receive forgiveness from God while withholding forgiveness from others.

Every one of us needs forgiveness, mercy and grace from God. Yet we must extend the same acts to others. We need to forgive others, showing them mercy and grace as well.

It has been said, “Bitterness is akin to you drinking poison and hoping your enemy gets sick.” Don’t do that! Let it go for the sake of your wellness. I have long concluded that “hurt people hurt people” and have learned how to refrain from responding in like manner. I encourage you to let go of all of the prior hurtful offenses so that YOU can move on. 

As we are discussing forgiveness, that also includes forgiving yourself. It has been said, “You will never speak to anyone more than yourself in your head, so be kind to yourself!” Cease from nursing the hurt. Forgive, heal and grow. 

Since the emergence of the current pandemic, many of us have experienced tremendous mounting losses. Lovie Mickel, a personal mentor and friend, whom is much like a mother to me, reminded me of the reflective opportunities contained within the following elegy. I share this powerful sonnet by an unknown author, which compels us not to treat any moment lightly.

I share a powerful poem by an unknown author, which compels us not to treat any moment lightly. Since the emergence of the current pandemic, many of us have experienced tremendous mounting losses. 

If I knew it would be the last time 
I'd see you fall asleep, 
I'd tuck you in more tightly, 
And pray your soul to keep. 

If I knew it would be the last time 
I'd see you walk out the door, 
I'd hug you and kiss you--and call you 
Back for just one more.

If I knew it would be the last time 
We'd spare a minute or two, 
I'd stop and say "I love you," 
Instead of assuming you know I do.

If I knew it would be the last time 
I'd be there to share your day, 
I wouldn't wait until tomorrow, 
Letting time with you slip away. 

For surely there is a tomorrow 
To make up for an oversight, 
And we'll always get a second chance 
To make everything all right. 

There will always be another chance 
To say our "I love yous," 
And certainly there's another chance 
To say our "What I can do’s." 

But just in case I might be wrong, 
And today is all I get, 
I'd like to say I love you, 
And hope you never forget. 

Tomorrow is not promised to anyone, 
Young or old alike, 
And today might be your last chance 
To hold your loved one tight. 

So if you're waiting for tomorrow, 
Why not do it all today? 
For if tomorrow never comes, 
You will surely regret the day.

You didn't take the extra time 
For a smile or hug or kiss. 
And you surely aren't too busy to grant 
What may be their last wish. 

So hold your loved ones close today, 
And whisper in their ear; 
Tell them how much you love them, 
And that you'll always hold them dear. 

Take the time to say "I'm sorry," 
"Forgive me," or "It's okay," 
And if tomorrow never comes, 
You'll have no regrets about today.

Happy Grandparents’ Day 

Grandparents Day, which is today, is an annual observance that is celebrated on the first Sunday after Labor Day. As a child, I vividly recall making clay ashtrays and greeting cards for the elders in my family to celebrate the occasion. Interestingly, I never envisioned that one day that I too would join this august and esteemed guild. 

Yet, hearing my littles ones call me “Poppy or Pops” (as they mature) still makes my heart leap with joy.  

I love to hear the lament of my own children when they observe my now lenient responses to former infractions that would raise my ire and wrath. Yet, when their own children behave similarly, I would offer to take them to Handel’s for an ice cream chat. 

I don’t refute their assessment. In fact, I proudly own it! I simply attribute my newfound behavior to the wisdom and experience gleaned from my parental role. I see things from different lenses today. The struggles and challenges while parenting often masked my then limited understanding or resources. I have since learned how to use my time and priorities wisely, taking the needed time to discuss, reflect and reason. In time, my children will become members of this noble clan called grandparents as well. I intend to retain this missive as a “receipt” of sorts when they, too, take on these same characteristics.    

Inspire Summer Series @ the Amp 

Looking for something to do today? Pastor Todd Johnson and the Second Baptist Church of Warren will host a musical fest today at 6 p.m.You are invited to experience the Red Hands in concert at the Warren Community Amphitheatre, 321 Mahoning Ave. NW.  This funk and soul-infused gospel band will uplift and inspire you! Also performing are the dynamic voices of the Nevels Sisters and music legend Billy Beck as he debuts his first-ever gospel album.

 Tickets, which are a nominal $15, are available online or by calling 330-393-0802. Students are admitted free!

September is Suicide Awareness Month 

Oftentimes, mental and emotional illness can be invisible to others. You can have anxiety but still sound confident; you can have depression but still smile and make jokes; you can feel suicidal and still turn up to work daily and appear “fine.”

Your overall spiritual, physical and emotional well-being is vital. I often share with persons experiencing  emotional matters that they can benefit having  both Jesus, who is Our Mighty Counselor, and the services of a professional therapist too! 

The National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 is an option. If you are a Mahoning or Trumbull county resident, call 330-747-2696; in Columbiana County, 330-424-7767; in East Palestine, Sebring and Beloit areas, 1-800-427-3606; and the Ashtabula Mental Health Hopeline is 1-800-577-7849. If you sense darkness in your own life or those you love, reach out to these services. Stop the hurting and pursue the healing.

The Help Network of Northeast Ohio, formerly known as Help Hotline, will celebrate 50 years of service to our community on Friday, Sept. 24. This organization has been faithfully serving our community with real-time access to information and services. The 2-1-1 fully staffed call center is a community resource that can be accessed at any time without incurring any expenses as a consumer. 

An entreaty to God

Father, I stretch my hands to thee, no other help I know. If thou would take thy Hands from me, where would I go? I come before you today with a humble heart to confess the mistakes I've made, both by commission and omission.  O Lord, as you hear my prayer, please cleanse my heart and forgive my imperfections. 

Please break the spirit of bitterness and unforgiveness, which is a heavy yoke that chokes me from the freedom and liberty of Your Peace. Release the load of burdens from the past I carry needlessly. Lord, in Your presence I submit humbly to Your perfect will for my life. Help me to let go of my fears, worries, problems, doubts, guilt and disappointments and simply trust You that I may keep the faith. 

Amen.

The Rev. Lewis W. Macklin II serves as the lead pastor of Holy Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, chaplain for the Youngstown Police Department, president of the Baptist Pastors Council and the local coordinator for the African American Male Wellness Walk of the Mahoning Valley. He resides in Youngstown with Dorothy, his partner in marriage and ministry. They share the love and joy of six children and seven grandchildren and their mischievous canine, Sir Winston.

— All biblical citations are New Living Translation unless noted otherwise.

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