Looking Through a Lens of Love

I’m not very good at forgiveness. I neither forgive easily nor freely accept forgiveness for myself. While I’m grateful that this flaw of mine requires me to constantly look to God for guidance rather than trying to figure it out on my own, these recent months of learning about forgiveness have been a necessary period of growth and learning.

A few months ago, a friend of mine “sinned against me” in a pretty harsh way, and as a result, I was really hurt and really sad (because sin is full of hurt and expresses a complete lack of joy). What I felt was justified, but how I reacted was not.  I was angry, and I wasn’t hiding it. But this wasn’t righteous anger, this was entirely selfish.  I was mad because my friend had hurt me, and so I repaid his meanness with meanness, his sin with sins of my own.

Around the same time that I was working through this hurt with my friend, [nlcf] started a new series on the “Lord’s Prayer,” which notably references forgiveness. Perfect timing, right?  But would you really expect anything less from a perfect Father?  And at the same time, I was also being encouraged to reflect on this series through photography.

One of the notable things about photography is that it creates opportunities to frame a point of view. I couldn’t help but relate the photographic process with how God frames His view of us. We are sinful people, and God could look at us in total fairness and choose to see only those ugly parts. Instead, He forgives those failings and looks at us through a lens of love, made possible by Jesus. We are beautiful and perfect in His sight because we are the recipients of a grace we could never earn on our own. As Paul says in both Colossians 3 and Ephesians 4, we are invited to “lay aside the old man” and “be clothed in the new.”

It’s kind of the same thing when we forgive each other. When I was angry with my friend, all I chose to see were his bad parts. I withheld my friendship because of my fixation on his flaws, handily disregarding the innumerable times I have been forgiven without any right to deserve it. But in forgiving him, God enabled me to refocus on the person who’d been my friend for so much longer than it had taken him to make that one hurtful decision.

And you know what? My friend was not the only one to walk away from this with his heart lightened. In learning to forgive him, God also blessed me by changing my heart and showing me how He was making me more like Him. How cool is that?

~ Kate Lanni

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