How did we learn about mercy? Was it not from you?
How did we learn about grace? Did not you teach us?
Where did we learn to forgive? Was it not from your example?
And tenderness – did we not hear it first from your lips?
But we have heard other voices, too, Father. We have often heard voices of condemnation. We know that all such voices come from Satan, the accuser of the brethren, but still, we have heard them, many times!
In fact, Lord, we have heard the voices of condemnation so often that we find ourselves repeating their words with our own lips, with our own thoughts, from our own heart.
We cannot forgive ourselves. We try, sort of – but the truth is, we don’t even know how. How can we forgive ourselves when we know, so intimately, so personally, what we have done?
We know our own thoughts.
We know our own bitterness.
We know our own anger, and hatred, and malice.
We try to justify ourselves. We can explain the reasons
we did what we did,
said what we said,
thought what we thought.
And so, we feel guilt, because we really did those things, said those things, thought those things.
This is the load that my friend bears right now. She has no idea – no idea, Father – how she will bear this load.
Her father has died, and their relationship was not what she wanted it to be.
Some of the stories have been told, and will be told. But other stories – no. They’ll never be told.
Oh, the pain! What words can describe this, when even a shrieking wail in the dark is inadequate to express it fully?
Words fail. But the pain doesn’t fail. It’s real, and the scars prove it.
But he’s dead! What now?
Before, there was always a glimmer of hope, some tiny possibility, that relationships would be restored. Confession, repentance, forgiveness. Tears of remorse for years lost, and a healing embrace.
But, not now. The moment is gone and the time is past.
What remains? Guilt. And she has learned what we all learn – that she can’t forgive herself.
Forgiveness comes from you, Father. Only you can forgive.
Father, I’m asking you to make the space and the place for my friend to spend time with you – a space in her schedule, and a place where she can meet with you alone. I’m asking you to give her the clarity of mind to speak to you about each thing she feels guilty about. And, for each thing she brings before you, Father, let her hear your voice: “I forgive you!”
Let her feel your mercy: “You are forgiven!”
Let her comprehend your grace: “You are forgiven!”
Let her believe your truth: “You are forgiven!”
I intercede now for my friend, your child, this hurting one who needs your touch, your reassurance, your tangible expression of love. Take away her guilt, Father. Turn her heart and eyes around so that she looks forward, and not back.