Day Two Reflection
Overcoming Our Natural Tendency to Protect Ourselves
Reflection By Scott Stoner
Each week during this retreat we will focus on a different theme related to the practice of forgiveness. This week’s theme is: “Practicing forgiveness to overcome our natural tendency to protect ourselves.” We will be reflecting together on what it means for each of us to focus on the aspect of forgiveness that requires us to examine and overcome our natural tendency to protect ourselves.
Yesterday Trawin Malone reflected on the temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness. Near the end of his reflection he asks us this hard question: “How does the temptation to protect our power, possessions, and prestige keep us from forgiving ourselves and others?” The question is a powerful reminder that a call to the practice of Christian forgiveness requires us to examine and overcome our natural tendency to protect ourselves. If someone has hurt our feelings, one way we might protect ourselves is by simply distancing ourselves from that person. Sometimes this may be the appropriate response, but at other times it could be that we are protecting ourselves by holding on to a grudge. The safe choice is often the choice to protect ourselves, but Jesus rarely calls us to make the safe choice. Instead, Jesus calls us to enter the wilderness of our own vulnerability and to look for and to create, when possible, opportunities to practice forgiveness.
The safe choice is one that, in Trawin’s words, protects our “power, possessions, and prestige,” which is to say that the safe choice protects our egos. It has been pointed out that the word “ego” can be an acronym for “Easing God Out,” which is an apt description of what we do when we choose to protect ourselves rather than being open to the vulnerability that comes with practicing Christian forgiveness.
Making It Personal: As you begin this journey, what are your hopes for this experience? How do you see the Christian understanding of forgiveness connect to the idea that we need to overcome our natural tendency to protect ourselves? Have you ever held a grudge as a form of self-protection? Are you holding on to one right now? If so, is there a different choice you would like to make?
Follow along with us on our retreat with our daily reflection and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner, Creator of Living Compass Wellness Initiative, The Rev. Mary Bea Sullivan, Chair of the Commission on Spirituality, Ms. Kathy Graham, Coordinator of Lifelong Christian Formation and The Rev. Kelley Hudlow, Coordinator of Communications.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.