Forgive us, for we know not what we do

Forgive us, Father, for we know not what we do.

Each Palm Sunday, I am even more sensitive to the fact that for the next week, millions will unknowingly demonize God and believe that they will be mightily blessed for doing so. I’m sure you’re wondering: How in the world can someone demonize God and not know it?

As simply as I can explain it, we can be fully aware that we’re doing something (walking, driving or standing somewhere) without giving it a conscious thought. We frequently do things without thinking about why we’re doing them—or the meaning and implications of our actions.

For example: All of us have found ourselves in a room and wondered, “Why did I come in here?” Or while in the process of doing something, we suddenly ask, “Why am I doing this?”

On rare occasions, we ask, “What does it mean that I am doing this?”

Death by torture: Divine or demonic?

This week we will frequently hear the phrase, “Christ died so that we might live,” as if he lay down on a slab, closed his eyes and stopped breathing. No one ever says, “God gave Jesus to the Romans to be sadistically tortured to death for sins he didn’t commit.” If they did, would it change our perception of God?

God-so-loved the worldWe unconsciously declare, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

Have you thought about the meaning of this Bible verse and others that proclaim that Jesus “died for our sins”? Would you like to? Let’s do a Drama Queen Workshops-style thinking exercise:


Front door of a beautiful suburban home. A business executive and single father, who has returned home a day early from a business trip, hears loud music and raucous chatter coming from his basement as he opens the door. He walks past beautifully appointed living and dining rooms, then into the huge kitchen, and down to the basement.

As he gets to the foot of the basement stairs and his eyes adjust to the darkness, he surveys the room. It looks like a scene from Sodom and Gomorrah:

Teenagers are drinking alcohol and dancing wildly. A few have passed out on the floor and on the sofas. Four guys are gambling at a table in the corner.

Near the laundry room, two boys are raping a drunk girl in the shadows. One kid, who was severely beaten after vomiting on a classmate, is lying in a pool of his own blood, lifeless.

The father is outraged! “What the hell is going on here? Mandy! Mandy, where are you?”

Screaming kids start scrambling, trying to escape up the stairs. He blocks their exit.

His daughter stumbles over friends to turn off the music and runs to him, stammering, trying to explain. Dad doesn’t want to hear it.

Mandy begs for his forgiveness; but forgiveness is out of the question. She falls to her knees, head bowed, in tears.

Dad is so angry, he can barely look at her. He asks, “Where’s your brother?”

“He left for that spiritual retreat today, remember?” Mandy murmurs, sobbing.

Dad raises an eyebrow. “It looks as if you are the one who should have gone!”

“I’m sorry, Dad. I don’t know what I was thinking. Please forgive me. Please forgive all of us,” she says, making a sweeping gesture across the room.

Her friends are now too afraid to move.

Dad thinks for a moment. Looking into the faces of the frightened teens, his tone softens.

“Because I love you so much, I will forgive you—but only on one condition: When John returns, I’m going to have him arrested and slowly tortured to death. His murder will wash away all your crimes. Everyone who believes that I have done this as an act of love will be forgiven of their misdeeds. In fact, they will live forever. So go tell everyone you know.”

That’s our drama. Now, ask yourself:

How would you respond to the father’s forgiveness offer if you were one of those teens in the basement: Would you accept it? Would you be grateful?

Is it an act of love or sadism to have an innocent child sadistically tortured to death so that the guilty children can escape punishment for their own misdeeds?

Why do we believe it is an act of love if God does it?

If a parent loves his guilty children so much that he would protect them by having his innocent child tortured to death, how does he feel about his innocent child?

If we insist to others that God had His innocent child tortured to death, are we proclaiming that God is good or evil?

If we believe that torturing an innocent person to death—for any reason—is a good thing, what does it say about us?

Needless to say, I’ve given this matter considerable thought, and I have concluded that declaring that God does something that Love would not do actually demonizes God. So during Holy Week or any week, I will repeat only one verse from the Bible’s crucifixion narrative: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:24)

What to Do When Someone “Does You Wrong”

Is it the season, the recession, the stars, or something in the water? The number of “Somebody did me wrong” stories I’ve heard from colleagues, friends, even strangers in line at the supermarket is multiplying like the fabled fish and loaves.

There is an abundance of emotional immaturity wafting through the ether. Folks are dehumanizing others from one inexplicable extreme to the other: screaming at the top of their lungs or giving them the silent treatment. There are so many adult actors starring in elementary school dramas that it must be a new trend, a frightening one at that.

Almost everywhere we turn, people are treating us in ways that they wouldn’t want to be treated. These larger than life Anti-Christ visitations create imbalance; they make us feel out of control. (Double the wobble when these bad actors can clearly see the spirit of the Anti-Christ in others, but can’t see it in themselves.) Fascinating stuff.

Life really is simple, despite our beliefs to the contrary. We consistently make it complicated and painful by delaying, detouring or completely derailing our Souls’ journeys to their desired destinations. Why? Our egos have made us forgetful and short-sighted, the same combination that transforms gullible people into suicide bombers. Sorry about the imagery, but it’s true.

This is self-inflicted pain that hurts a lot of people unnecessarily. And all of these distressing dramas follow the same pitiful script template:

Somebody Has Done Me Wrong. Again.


Woe S. Me


You: A Soul in a human body struggling to remember that It was created in God’s divine image.

Villain: An ego-driven Soul who has lost contact with the God presence within.

Ego: The personality in every human that focuses the body’s attention on fears, insecurities and threats.

Scene:   Anywhere on the planet that the ego can destroy our inner peace

Time:    Day or night, in all time zones

Act One: Ego Deceives, We Believe

Scene One: Ego tells us that Life is unfair; only tangibles exist—and oh, by the way, we’re only human.

Scene Two: Ego tells us that there are villains who will make us their victims. These people will break our hearts, hurt our bodies, and (gasp!) they will steal or destroy our stuff.

Scene Three: Ego tells us that we should respond to all villains with wrath, righteous indignation and verbal or physical force.

Act Two: We Forget Core Spiritual Truths

Scene One: Believing Ego, we forget the core spiritual truth that God is within us and we are powerful and divine.

Scene Two: We forget that we should see the divinity in all humans, even if they can’t see it within in themselves—a disability that causes them to act as villains.

Scene Three: We focus our attention on what the villain did, which makes us feel victimized, forgetting that:

  1. We are not held accountable for what others do to us, only what we do to them.
  2. No one can hurt us without hurting themselves. Ultimately, they’re the victims, not us.
  3. We should compassionate about their disability, which causes them to be unkind.

Act Three: We Become Defensive

Scene One: We retaliate against the disabled Soul’s errant behavior with anger, righteous indignation, and verbal or physical force—so blind with rage that we can no longer see God dwelling inside our target, the so-called villain.

Scene Two: We reap what we sow. Our retaliation attracts others into our lives who will be as unforgiving as we were.

Scene Three: We can’t figure out why life is so difficult, and why long-term happiness always seems to elude us.

How often has this teeth-gnashing drama encored on our life’s stages? More accurately, how many times have we chosen to act in this play? When will it dawn upon us that these dramas will replay ad nauseum, until we see the divinity in all things and all people—and consistently treat each situation and person as if God dwells within them.

We’re not going to change our experience or our luck until we learn to respond more divinely to other people’s behavior, no matter how many new brushstrokes they’re painting on the portrait of crazy. (Thanks, Margo, I LOVE that phrase!)

Truth be told, at some point in our eternal lives, we behaved the same way. It’s part of our evolutionary process. Just because we’ve figured out that it’s not in our best interest to treat others like pond scum doesn’t mean that we don’t still have the potential to drag our Boogie Man costumes from the back of the closet. So let’s not get holier than thou by being judgmental.

Darkness gives us the impetus to turn on our Light. These errant behaving Souls—as crazy as they’re acting—play an invaluable role. Quite possibly, we attract these hurtful people into our lives to give us practice in looking for the Christ Light that is in every Soul.

These people are our coaches. They help us practice forgiveness. How could we become good at it if there was no one or nothing to forgive? The reward for our diligence and proficiency is that we will attract more forgiving people and other Beings of Light and fewer Princes(ses) of Darkness. I’d say it’s worth the effort.

Wouldn’t we rather surround ourselves with loving people who respect and treasure us? That requires us to be loving and respectful. It means that we have to treasure every divine Soul, regardless of their outward appearances or bad acting. That doesn’t mean we have to invite them for dinner, hang out or fall in love with them. We can love their Souls…from over here, where Light and Peace and Joy prevail.

This is important stuff: Attracting people who will not disturb your peace requires you to invite the God within you to direct all of your dramas. God is not a screamer. You must listen very closely for the “Still Small Voice” that delivers your divine instructions. You’ll be surprised by the clarity and simplicity of those directions.

Sometimes there is nothing more to learn from a situation, and the “Still Small Voice” might say, “Let go, move on.” Trust what you hear. Do what you’re told. Know that something or someone more respectful, more honorable, more supportive, more joyful, and more deserving awaits the divine you.

Other times, the “Still Small Voice” might tell you to do something to neutralize a situation that someone’s else’s ego has imbalanced. It means that your Soul has agreed to be the channel through which the matter will be resolved for the Highest Good of all concerned. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Allow God, and God alone, to work through you. You’ll know that it’s the Divine talking to you if what you are directed to do is not vindictive, involves no anger, requires no force, and no one is physically or emotionally harmed.

Whatever and whomever you need to complete your Divine Assignment will mysteriously appear. Sometimes they provide resources and information that you didn’t know existed. You didn’t need to know before that moment.

No doubt, the egos of the so-called villains probably want to maintain the status quo. But their Souls and the Divine Spirit within their Souls want their errant behavior to cease—for their own good. Egos only have control over bodies. They have absolutely no power over Divine Spirit. Game over.

What are the implications for you? Understand who you are; be curious about why you’re here. Instead of fixating on the darkness dancing in others’ errant behavior, look for their Light. And by all means, keep your Light on. Since Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time, your Light will be critical to the healing of that Soul or situation.

Who knows? Perhaps they called you onto their path to help them find their Light. Do a little over-acting: Magnify their Light. Uplift them. Bless them. Or maybe the need was yours: Maybe your Soul blessed you with the dilemma so that you could gain more “been there done that” credibility and “I know exactly how you feel” empathy for others who might reach out to you.

As Iyanla Vanzant wrote, “There Is Value in the Valley.” When someone does you wrong, thank them. They’ve stopped their own evolutionary growth to give you this opportunity to reconnect with the Divine within you, to practice acting as if you are divine, to practice non-judgment and forgiveness.

These so-called villains are not party crashers. Your Soul invited them onto your stage because they were the perfect characters to teach the lessons you needed to learn. Everyone and every situation that arises in your life serves the purpose of your Infinite Soul and Divine Spirit—the real you, the part that was made in the image of God.

You have options. You can choose to focus your attention on creating comfort and abundance for your finite physical body. You can even believe that God sent you here to wallow in paper money and luxurious material items. (Haven’t you heard? “God wants you to be rich.”) But consider the possibility that focusing on temporary possessions on the physical plane is as ego-driven and self-destructive as going into a crowded marketplace with explosives strapped to your body.

Even if you choose that route, your infinite Soul will survive. And it will grow, despite your ego’s antics. Stretching beyond the physical plane is uncomfortable. Growing pains are real. But the Soul can handle it, and it has all eternity to patiently teach you the value of being more visionary, making more divine choices.

The next time someone does you wrong, think before you react. Remember the Law of Attraction/Reciprocity: Whatever you do will be done to you. You will attract souls who mirror your beliefs and behaviors. They will treat you the way that you treat those whom you refuse to forgive.

Take advantage of every painful experience that arises. If you don’t learn and grow from that experience, if you don’t seize the opportunity to rely more heavily on the Divine within you, the one who “did you wrong” won’t be someone else.