They say if you kinda attune your heart — you can hear it reverberated throughout the universe for days —for forever — after Resurrection Sunday morning:
I turn the calendar page yesterday morning, turn the page to a new month, and Easter Monday can feel like the most authentic beginning of a new year, a new you.
And standing there with an empty calendar page in hand, I’m struck with how I have turned on the one man who vowed his life to me and said razor-slicing things I would never want repeated, would never want to be mentioned in the light of day.
I have up and lashed my kids with more than a relentless tongue-whipping or two and their hearts bear the scars.
I have lied and betrayed and taken and failed and fallen and my ugly selfishness has destroyed a whole world of beautiful things.
I trace calendar squares with the tip of my finger and don’t tell me that you don’t know how you can burn with ache on the inside.
These are more than cliche-swaggering words to me, this is the raw begging in my veins: I have done things I would rather die a thousand deaths than for even one person to ever know.
And I have been labelled and talked about and I have felt shattered and ashamed and those shards are buried deep and never go away, but the severe and merciful truth is: Whatever has ever been said about you, the truth is that you are infinitely worse than anything that ever has been said.
Whatever the critics say about you — isn’t the truth that God knows about you.
This truth both defends you and disarms you.
I hang the calendar back up and now is Eastertide and now, for all you’ve said and done and taken, all there is to hear in this practice of resurrection is:
Forgiven.You are forgiven of what you’ve taken. Washed entirely clean of what you’ve entirely muddied, Released of what you keep reliving, Cleared of what you couldn’t see your way through.
You are forgiven of the unforgivable and maybe — forgiveness is really only forgiveness — when it’s forgiving the unforgivable. God, how do I do that?
I carry out one of the fading Easter lilies today. I let the white cross carved from rock from Jerusalem stand alone on the mantle.
And there stands the rooted truth: Forgiveness only happens where a death has happened. Forgiveness only happens where hope has died, expectations have died, plans have died, reputation has died, fairness has died, dreams have died.
One wilted lily lies at the bottom of the compost bin.
If you don’t die to something, so you can forgive someone — it’s your own quality of life and very soul that begins to die.
Unforgiveness is a venom that will get you and give you grief.
Who’s died a bit to forgive the lot I’ve given them? Who’s had to grieve and let go, to let me off the hook? Who’s had to bury a bit of themselves to forgive me, and give our relationship a new lease on life?
Because when a wrong happens, aren’t there only two things that can really happen?
I can happen to pay for the wrong — or I can try to make you pay for it. And I can just brazenly testify: there are a thousand ways to make trying people pay.
Or — I can pay.
I can pay the price and die to my anger and affirm you. I can pay — and die to my revenge and respect you. I can pay — and die to my desire to get even and give even you the grace even I have been given.
There is never any forgiveness without someone getting to pay for it. There is no forgiveness without demanding the cost or paying the cost.
And the thing is:
Every time you try to make someone pay, they are the ones who get to be in charge of your life. When you try to make someone pay, they dominate your thoughts, they take control of your energy, they seize your heart and mind and time.
When you hold your forgiveness ransom until someone pays you back and earns your love — you’re the one whose quality of life gets poorer and poorer.
That white cross on the mantle catches the light.
Jesus did not make even one of us pay. Not one of us could pay what we owe — so how can we expect anyone else to pay what they owe? Jesus hung on that cross and said: “It is finished.”
And until we forgive and stop trying to make someone else pay — it will never be finished.
I don’t know when I realized: We grow bitter toward someone’s actions — when we think we are better than them and their actions. Bitterness is always a function of thinking you’re better.
To forgive is to give payment — and let the bitterness be finished and freedom begin.
You can overcome evil with good, because the cross overcame all of your evil and now gives you the power to do good.
Who of us doesn’t need a bloody resurrection?
There may be ashes but there are risings everywhere and resurrections are our moment-by-moment reality and doesn’t this change everything:
Only the forgiving heart — gets to be a forgiven heart.
Only if the heart forgives the one who betrayed the trust you gave, only when you turn and face and forgive the one who lied about you behind your back, only when you forgive the one who let you down and stood you up, forgive the one who shattered your reputation, shredded your trust, busted your dreams, broke your plans, and bruised your one boldly beating heart — only when your heart forgives — can your heart be forgiven — forgiven of being a lying, cheating, and thieving sinner, forgiven of what you thought you would never do, forgiven of what you don’t what anyone to know that you have done.
How can I not pass you the cup of grace that I have drunk so deeply from?
How can I refuse you the mercy that I have needed to stay alive?
How can I weigh what you’ve done against me as heavier and what Jesus has done for me as far lighter?
Only the forgiving heart — gets to be a forgiven heart.
It’s past time, and it’s Eastertide and it’s time to turn, and the stones could turn and roll away right about now, and everything could actually turn around.
I smooth out that empty calendar page of fresh possibilities. My eye catches that cross drawn on my wrist:
You can only forgive to the extent that you don’t forget what Jesus has done for you.
Remember what Jesus has done for you and you will remember how to forgive. Forgiveness is only hard when we forget what Jesus has done for us and only remember what has been done against us.
If you can’t forgive — then how can you claim to know you’ve been forgiven by Jesus?
I turn the cross on the mantle so I can see it clearly from the kitchen sink, from the door.
When you turn from how you’ve been wounded and look at how He’s been wounded for you — you can forgive — and are given soul healing through all the things.
And that cross on the mantle carved out of white stone from the Holy Land forms the abundant, cruciform way into the real practice of resurrection, every forgiven heart reaching out brave arms to forgive.
Stones and hearts still miraculously moving.
How do you more than celebrate Easter — but live the Easter season?
How do you practice resurrection?
How do you live a genuinely abundant life?
In sixty vulnerably stories, the tender invitation of The Way of Abundance moves you through your unspoken broken — into the abundant life.