Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many of us. We gather with family and friends without the pressure of gift giving and we celebrate the many blessings that all of us have received.
Earlier this week, I (Matt) was blessed to take 40 men (clients, friends, etc.) up to Marion Correctional Institution. There we spent the day with 40 incarcerated men who are involved with a Christian ministry, Kindway, and their widely acclaimed re-entry program, Embark. Led by the Kindway team of counselors, as well as a growing number of volunteers, Embark offers a series of courses and ongoing mentoring that help these men grow significantly in their emotional and spiritual maturity so as to be ready to return to society with the life skills they need to not only succeed, but truly flourish.
I think all of us who went up that day were struck by how grateful these men are for the forgiveness they have received. True, some of their victims and their families may not have forgiven them. But from a faith perspective, they know that they are forgiven by God and they have learned to forgive themselves. And the freedom they now experience from that forgiveness is giving them a joy they have never experienced. Time and time again we heard them share how their lives now are being directed towards godly purposes and noble ambitions. It was a powerful day that none of us will soon forget.
As we approach Thanksgiving and begin enumerating all that we have to be thankful for, perhaps we might include gratitude for the forgiveness we have received from others. I know how thankful I am to those I love for the times I have hurt them and they have forgiven me. As a Christian, I stand in awe of a God who time and time again forgives me when I behave in ways contrary to love. I also am thankful for the opportunities I have been given to forgive others who have hurt me.
Forgiveness is difficult. In forgiving others we do not excuse what someone has done to hurt us or others. But we do choose to show mercy to them, to not seek revenge and to desire God’s best for them. Perhaps this Thanksgiving will provide an opportunity for you to forgive yourself or someone else for past hurts and wrongs. And perhaps it will offer you an opportunity to seek forgiveness from someone you’ve hurt. From either perspective, isn’t forgiveness a wonderful gift for which to be thankful!
Offering and receiving forgiveness is an important part of living a truly great life. Enjoy this Thanksgiving and know how thankful our team is for each of you, our cherished clients and friends.
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner & Co-founder