No one is a stranger here.
Finding our forgiveness here,
we in turn forgive all wrongs.
— Bryan J. Leech
On a recent Sunday during worship in northern Virginia, we sang one of my favorite songs before communion. A verse from the song is quoted above. Having entered the assembly that day feeling burdened with various worries and sorrows, the song touched me deeply and reminded me why we keep coming back to meet with other believers.
All of us want to belong. I can think of few things more painful than feeling excluded. One of the ways our younger son Matt has blessed us has been the way his presence opened our eyes to so much that we couldn’t fully see before, and among the things we’ve learned is the hard lesson of how sad it is to feel excluded.
Seeing Matt largely disregarded by his nondisabled peers over the years has been a sorrow that stabs at the heart again and again each time it happens. Yet there is also consolation in the deep love of those who can see past the disabilities to treasure the unique person Matt is, and patience with those who aren’t quite there yet, but are trying to get past their obvious discomfort with anything that is not typical. It’s easier to be patient as we recognize that we, too, have excluded others, often without intending to do so.
I’ve heard people admonish others that forgiveness is its own reward; that holding onto our anger or grudges does more damage to us than it does to the objects of our hard feelings. I agree with this totally. But forgiveness is important for other reasons as well. Forgiveness teaches us patience and understanding. It implies humility, as this quote suggests, and the realization that we cannot expect the forgiveness of others until we are willing to offer it ourselves. This humility is what transforms a group of diverse people into a family where everyone belongs.
This kind of relationship with others is more easily talked about than practiced, of course. It’s an ideal for which we strive, but as with so many desirable traits, we often fall short of what we are striving for. I think the important thing is to keep trying, keep opening our hearts to others, keep reminding ourselves that what unites us is greater than what divides us.
That is the spirit that I hope to maintain on this blog, and I sincerely appreciate all the wonderful and supportive comments of those who visit us here. I hope that all who read this blog will find something helpful. My gratitude goes out to all who take the time to stop by. If you are seeking optimism, hope, and a spirit of gratitude, respect and caring, YOU BELONG!