Mercy and Forgiveness

A few years ago a dear friend was in a horrific accident with two of her children. The accident report was chilling and one of her children lost their life afterward. In the ensuing investigation it was found that the accident was caused by driver error and also it came out she had been driving on a suspended license. Ultimately, she was not charged but the pain kept coming.

There was PTSD for her and her surviving children. There was a huge scandal involving people raising funds for her family (this incident has made me very wary of crowdsourcing). And her marriage did not survive.

Her faith lay as shattered with the glass in the street. She converted to Catholicism years before as a teenager. It had been an unpopular move among family and friends but she stuck it out, determined this was the Truth. Later many of these same friends and family would abandon and betray her in her most tragic moment.

Over time she’s had to rebuild her life and her faith along with that. The first Good Friday after the death of her child, she commented how close she felt to the Blessed Mother. She made many changes in her life that brought her closer to God again. But one terrible thing holds on: lack of forgiveness and mercy.

Not on God’s part for sure, but in our human imperfection, we often cannot come to be merciful to ourselves and forgive. Ironically, even for things we don’t need forgiveness for.

I have watched my friend struggle from afar (she’s moved across the country now). She is much, much better but those moments of grief where she beats herself up are brutal to watch. I can’t imagine how they actually feel.

Last night at a Communal Penance service, I thought of her when the pastor said that Jesus always has mercy and forgives our sins, but we also have to love Him and ourselves enough to forgive ourselves. It’s not easy in small matters, but ones like what my friend is enduring…

My prayers for my friend, for all those who are suffering for mercy and self-forgiveness this Lent. And get to Confession!