Colossians 3 says, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with…patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
The Prayer of St. Francis says, “Make me an instrument of Thy peace….Where there is injury [let me sow] pardon.”
Where there is injury, pardon. There is no question that injury is a fact of life. There is injury, there is hurt.
The question for us as people of faith—those who are here because we are seeking to follow Jesus and who desire the abundant life he offers—is what do I wear when I go where injury is? With what do I clothe myself when I go where injury has gone?
There are options, of course, and we see people show up to injury wearing all kinds of things.
The other day I saw someone wear revenge. It was a severe, fiery red outfit and there were chains with all kinds of scary, sharp weapons hanging on them. I noticed that as she walked, the chains were swinging those sharp implements and they were scratching and bruising her legs.
More than once I have seen someone show up to injury wearing dissention. The outfit was an unpleasant yellow color. There were little pads of paper and cell phones in a pouch flung across the shoulder like a mail bag. It was very strange. He was whispering behind his hand to people as he moved through the room. Then, I noticed he was dropping messages and texts here and there—all designed to deepen divisions between people and “stir the pot,” as they say.
Occasionally I see someone wearing a grudge to an injury. That outfit is an ugly, gray, colorless outfit that is tough to wear. It’s lead lined and very heavy. The legs strain under the weight of it. To make matters worse, it is very hard to take off, with Velcro fasteners everywhere.
Another outfit some people insist on wearing is the regalia of self-righteousness. This one looks grand at first. It seems well-tailored and make of good quality materials, but one closer inspection, it is make of the cheapest imitation of fine materials. It is held together by the barest thread. But, the most disturbing characteristic is that woven into the pattern of the cloth are words. They’re not obvious at first, but then you can see them if you are paying attention: insecure, angry, you deserve what you get, judgmental, unforgiven.
Why, I’ve even seen guilt and shame make an appearance at such times and places. It is a complicated outfit and hard to describe. It is made of various shades of hushed tones. Parts of it are heavy and uneven. Parts are scratchy wool and burlap. It is uncomfortable, to say the least. One generally needs help getting out of the outfit, what with all of its complicated fasteners, hooks, buttons, belts and such.
Sometime back, however, I knew about a significant injury. It was quite a hurt. In walked the person who was hurt. I expected an ugly gray outfit, hanging heavy. Or maybe the sharp, severe red number. But I was astounded at the simple beauty of the garment she wore. It was lightweight and seemed to flow as she entered the room. Not at all what I expected. So, THIS is what pardon looks like, I thought. She wore PARDON to the injury. Then, I looked behind her and was equally astounded to see the one who had wronged her. She was wearing the same flowing, lightweight style. Both seemed…unburdened.
I know I have all these garments hanging in my closet. And each day I have to ask myself, “Today, what will I choose to wear?”
Grace and peace,