What Does Forgiveness Have to Do with Generosity?

What Does Forgiveness Have to Do with Generosity?
I know that you will be surprised when you read this:  Most people are not born generous.  Like so many other things in life, becoming generous is learned – not all at once, but over time.  Recently, it hit me that all sorts of things must align in one’s life to ensure a generous heart – like forgiveness. 
My particular “aha” moment may or may not have had something to do with a certain child of mine who may or may not have done something that really put me over the edge this past weekend.  Once I fell off the cliff, all bets were off.  My pain and anger (which, of course I was righteously entitled to) knew no bounds.
Then the Holy Spirit showed up not once, but twice.  First, I was trying to find a movie to watch on Saturday night.  For ages I had wanted to see “Philomena” – and there it was, On Demand, beckoning me.  I knew the basic storyline – Philomena was an Irish unwed teenage mother living with and working for cruel nuns.
Because of her “sin” her three-year-old son was taken from her against her will and adopted into another family.  (Alert: If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading now.) Philomena decides that, with the help of a reporter, she must find out what happened to her son, only to discover that he died some seven years earlier. 

Eventually, all paths lead back to the nun’s home – the scene of so much pain and agony.  Philomena has a chance to finally confront one of the bitter and vindictive nuns, Sister Hildegard.  Astonishingly, Philomena’s first words to her are, “I forgive you.”  Watching what has transpired, the reporter incredulously says, “What? Just like that?” And Philomena replies – “It’s not ‘Just like that.’ That was hard for me.” 
Indeed, the act of forgiveness is hard work. Forgiveness is an act of will.  The Holy Spirit hit me again on Sunday when I saw this video about forgiveness based on Mark 11:25, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.” 
Yep, I was convicted.  My transgressor did not need for me to forgive -- I needed to forgive...for me, for my well being.  You cannot get to generosity with bitterness and anger stuck in your soul.  You just can’t.  And that’s the beauty of the church.  It is a place where we can throw off that which burdens us and ask for forgiveness of others and ourselves.  It is hard, hard work.  But in loving communities, just like many of our congregations are, we can be restored, renewed, and ready to live out our desire to be generous again.  What amazing grace.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012.  She has slowly but surely managed to forgive the child who may or may not have upset her.  Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.