We return now to the question we started with: is it possible for a man to see the world with sober eyes when he believes himself to have been wronged by it? In other words, is it possible for a man to live with an attitude of forgiveness?
Not only is it possible, it is necessary. And it is glorious.
It is glorious because it is only possible when we tap into the holy eyes that God has given us to see His world as it truly is, and to see beyond what appears to be in order to set our sights on what ought to be. Forgiveness is glorious precisely because it reminds us of all of those things that we are so prone to easily forget. It keeps our eyes sober in a world drunk on its own esteem.
The world tells us that everything that happens to us here is somehow about us. If someone betrays you, it's because, well, you're just betray-able. Something is fundamentally wrong with you. If someone doesn't like you, it's because you're unlikable. If someone rejects you, you're just not worthy of them. And so the world tries to program us to always be questioning ourselves; if we are questioning ourselves, we cannot question our world.
So our eyes are turned inward, and our fragile hearts are set upon them. But an attitude of forgiveness decides ahead of time that this narrative of the world is not true. An attitude of forgiveness recognizes that not everything that happens to us is about us. In fact, quite a bit of it isn't. Most of the things that happen in the world are a reflection of our collective fallenness, not our personal insufficiencies. In forgiveness, we reject the idea that we must obsess over our "failures" and constantly be evaluating ourselves, and we turn our energies instead toward the world.
Which means that in forgiveness, we are able truly to engage what is happening here. We are able to encounter it and embrace it and step in and do something about it.
The world tells us we ought to be angry, we ought to be bitter, we ought to be hurt by the things that happen to us. It wants us to spend our lives indignant, as though we deserve better. It's a quiet little deception, but an important one, because when we see through the world's distorted eyes, what we see in this image is a bigger version of ourselves. A more perfect one. One that is more worthy than it's being treated.
But eyes of forgiveness keep our vision on what God intended all of creation to be. It helps us to constantly be seeing a better world, not a bigger self. We do deserve better, but eyes of forgiveness see that the better we deserve is in the restoration of creation, in the setting of the whole world right, not in getting vengeance or recognition or whatever for ourselves.
Forgiveness develops in us a posture of humility, for we see ourselves not as victims of a cruel and injust world, but as moving pieces in its brokenness, on the same path toward redemption as the rest of it. We see ourselves as fellow journeymen, with all the same proclivities as those it is easy to spite because they have hurt us. We see in ourselves the brokenness that we grieve in the world, and it doesn't set us above it, but puts our feet right down in the muck and the mud where we can truly engage with it and bring something holy, something God-pleasing, something glorious into it.
Something above the fray that hits below the belt, a gut punch right into the world's narratives that just aren't working for us.
Is it possible? It is. But we have to commit ourselves to this posture. We have to commit ourselves to developing an attitude of forgiveness that permeates everything that we do. We have to decide, ahead of time, not to buy the world's narratives, not to let ourselves get tangled in its weeds.
We have to know that no matter how we "feel," no matter what the world tries to tell us, no matter what it tries to sell us, we're all broken here together. And if we see brokenness first - before betrayal, before spite, before indignation - we can also see hope. And that's where we get the chance to do something glorious.
As human beings in the image of God with sober eyes to see the world.