By Rod Ngo, CH BCBP Cebu South
“As I walked out the door towards the gate that would lead me to freedom, I knew that if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” -Nelson Mandela
Four months from now, I will relinquish my position as chapter head of our community. At first, I thought I would be unburdened of the work and responsibility (including writing “New Wineskins” for “Kaigsuonan,” ha ha). But I was wrong. It’s not my tasks at BCBP that had made me angry and unforgiving on occasion. On the contrary, my stint with BCBP has taken me on an intense spiritual journey, an experience made possible by my daily walk with God.
For the last two and a half years, I have devoted time and energy to missions and outreaches, formations and community finance, and other duties to the BCBP community. I have also reached out to those who are in distress or were lost. Often, there were times when I was angry, pressure inside unleashed with harsh words or cold silence, even to persons close to me, including my wife and children. And I didn’t mind the negative feelings, especially in our household where I thought providing material need and comfort would be enough.
I didn’t know then. I thought that my job at BCBP had something to do with the absence of peace, love and harmony at home. I soon knew I was wrong. How did I come to my senses? I would wake up early and pray harder so that I would be “quick to listen, slow to speak out and slow to become angry” (James 1:19) and to remind myself not to sin by letting anger control me (Ephesians 4:29).
I remind myself that anger, as Richard Krigbaum wrote, “Provides enormous energy.” But it should be righteous anger, which “empowers a leader to conquer evil,” not wrongful anger, which “turns a leader against persons he loves and serves.”
ALONG with knowing anger and keeping it in check, I learned about forgiving. If you forgive other people when they are against you, Matthew says (6:14-15), your heavenly Father will also forgive you. “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” But how is it to make forgiving a part of one’s personality and being? The proud usually don’t forgive easily, much more acknowledge the mistake and ask for forgiveness. I’ve learned that this requires repetition, a serial act for it to become a part of our character.
To those who want to learn, prayer helps. As we pray, God gives us new eyes to see and a new hearts to care. Jesus also taught us to pray (Luke 11:4), “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” Forgiveness requires forbearance. And how difficult it is to forbear when those who sin against us and whom we forgive are members of our family or brothers and sisters in the BCBP community. We fear that we cant forgive more than once or twice. We forget what Jesus told Peter when he asked the Lord “how many times shall I forgive my brother?” Jesus answer was “not seven times but 77 times.”
How many of us would have that patience and love to forgive, or courage to ask for forgiveness? Human as we are, it would require an enormous amount of understanding and affection which we may not learn and acquire in one lesson but in several lessons of life. Our constant prayer is that we’d soon learn and we’d keep trying until we do.
I’M GLAD I realized before it was too late that it wasn’t freedom from work with the BCBP community that I sought and longed for, but freedom from anger, resentment and bitterness that would gnaw deep inside and, at times, break out in words and deeds of fury.
As my term at BCBP dwindles down to a precious few months, I pray not just for me and my loved ones, but for all our brothers and sisters in the community, to have that courage to ask for forgiveness, and also to forgive those who hurt or slighted us. Forgiveness, like some breath of fresh exhilarating air, also will infuse others who in turn will forgive those who, sometime in the past, wounded their feelings.
It is said that the practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world.Let us do our share of healing.
Source: Kaigsuonan – August 2014 Issue