We all have one.

We all have the one sin that we consider completely unforgiveable. Not the ones we ourselves commit, although we have those, too, but the ones that others commit against us. Folks can wrong us in any number of ways and we can manage to forgive them. But, when they wrong us in that one particular way, we simply are unable to forgive it.

It could be humiliation, lying, stealing, neglect, or gossiping. It could be any number of things, and it could be something that is inconsequential to someone else. But, when it’s done to you, then it’s not only inexcusable, but also its unforgivable.

Perhaps, it’s something held over from childhood – some way in which one of your parents has deeply hurt you or abused your trust. Having it done to you again stirs up all those old feelings and fears. Maybe, it’s something that you yourself do, and having it done to you brings on a bout of guilt. Or, it could be something that bugs you just because it bugs you.

For whatever reason, it’s not something you can forgive.

At least you think you can’t.

Ah, but you can, with God’s grace. It won’t be easy, but you can. And, this Year of Mercy is an excellent time to do it.

Two things before I go on: First, I can say this because I’ve lived it and am living it now. Second, I’m fully aware that there are situations in which the sin was so terrible that it has created lasting scars that require years of therapy and spiritual direction before healing and forgiveness can take place.

I’m talking about the sins that are unforgivable because of your own stubbornness and pride. I’m talking about the ones for which you hold the other accountable even though the account has long since been paid or can never be paid simply for the satisfaction of keeping him or her under your thumb.

I’ll bet that if you look back on your life, you’ll find a pattern of times in which you’ve been unable to forgive that sin, or ones like it. Furthermore, I’ll bet that if you continue looking back, you’ll be able to spot the point at which that sin became for you unforgivable and what it is that strikes you so deeply about it.

Once you know why it’s unforgivable for you, you’ll be on your way to learning how to forgive it.

There are hordes of Scripture passages in which our Lord talks about forgiveness. He tells us again and again that we must forgive no matter what. For me, the one single passage that hits home – the one passage that forces me to drop my stubbornness and pride and work diligently toward forgiveness – is found in the Gospel of Matthew

If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” (Mt 6:14-15)

You don’t get much more to the point than that. Forgive, or you will not be forgiven. Period. Jesus didn’t add any qualifiers to that; he’s talking about any transgression and all transgressions. Not only that, but when he taught his disciples to pray, he included the same point in the Our Father.

“… And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those trespass against us.”

Every time we pray the Our Father, we should be reminded of that call to forgiveness, and it should prick our hearts to take concrete steps toward effecting it.

Steps, mind you, not leaps and bounds. Forgiving what is to us an unforgivable sin is a process that is normally one step forward and two steps back. It’s those steps forward that matter most and Jesus has promised that we will be given the grace to keep stepping forward if only we ask.

When I feel stuck in the forgiving process, I turn to this passage:

“No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it.” (1 Cor 10:13)

 

We all have our unforgivable sins. But God has promised that he will give us a way to forgive them.