Who’s that person or group of people who hurt you deeply? What are those words you can’t forget? That betrayal? The rejection, dismissal, even persecution you’ve endured that left a wound?
Maybe it was long, long ago. Or yesterday.
After time, you may even be able to insulate yourself and forget it for an hour, or a day, or even a week.
But then someone says something. Or does something. Or you see something out of the corner of your eye.
That wounded place gets bumped and it hurts, and you realize you need to forgive again. And again.
Because hurting people hurt people.
We’ve been in Israel/Palestine for the past week. The place where Jesus walked and healed and where there are deep, deep wounds in desperate need of healing today.
Yesterday we talked to Sami Awaad – a Palestinian Christian living in this sacred land contested by Jews, Christians, and Muslims – Palestinians and Israelis, all of whom have a heritage of being both oppressed and oppressor.
Like you and me, Sami has been wounded.
Unlike many of us, his pain is deep as the Mediterranean, and wide as the Negev desert. He lives among his enemies who determine where he can and can’t go, and how much water his family gets, and if he’ll receive electricity or not – not because he’s done anything wrong, but because of where he was born.
Everyone in this land is wounded, and everyone is bumping into the raw places of the other – purposely or not.
Because forgiven people forgive people. And maybe healed people will heal countries.
In order to bind up the wounds of the past and stop blaming…
in order to stop living out of a victim mentality…
in order to forgive…
Sami realized that he needed to move towards his enemies in order to better understand their wounds.
Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” not “Create a political policy”.
So he traveled with others of different religions – Jews and Muslims – to Aushwitz, the notorious concentration camp in Poland where thousands of Jews were killed during World War 2.
They shared their stories. They shared their pain. They moved towards each other. Towards forgiveness. Towards healing.
Additionally, Sami meets regularly with Jewish Settlers – those who have been the most oppressive to him.
They share their stories. They share their pain. They move towards each other. Towards forgiveness. Towards healing.
“The Christian vision is that the world is a temple. If that is true, then our enemies are sacred, too. Who else created them but God?
The ability to respect the outsider is probably the litmus test of true seeing” Richard Rohr
Where do you need healing? Where do you need to extend forgiveness? Who do you need to move towards? What enemy do you need to know better?
What if you just said, “Help me understand your pain”?