Ted Haggard: Forgiving the past.
The past is a funny thing. Each one of us are incapable of living in the present without past experiences playing some sort of role in the choices we make for the future. I suppose the unique quality of the past is its ability to claim absolute truth; no one can go back and change the past. It is, in a sense, the Rock of Ages.
But here is what just tickles me to death: The human ability to change the perception of the past, or just forget it outright. Oh dear, what would we do without manipulation of convenience…
This week, HBO will be airing a new documentary titled, “The Trials of Ted Haggard.” I am assuming that adding the word “Tribulation” was just a flippant oversight on their part. The film follows the present life of former pastor, Ted Haggard, as he fights his way through life, destined to face punishment by all for his sins of the past. It paints an interesting picture of his life, one that seems to shed a more victim-like appeal to the gay prostitute-paying, meth-smoking, lying-out-of-his-ass reverend. I suppose that if you wanted to be compared to someone like John the Baptist roaming about in the wilderness, you could not pick a better place to live out your exile than Arizona. In short, the film makes it seem as if Mr. Haggard has been shunned by all, especially evangelicals, and has been treated in the most hypocitically “un-Christian” way.
One thing that I truly believe in is the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is our ultimate weapon against the past. It allows us not to erase the past, but compliment it by acknowledging the fact that none of us are perfect, and that we have the ability to grow. I do not believe, however, that it is any body’s place to judge anyone else, for that is not forgiveness. And it is not my intention to do either to Mr. Haggard. I will not judge him, because I am not God; I will not forgive him, because he has not asked me for it, nor has he wronged me.
I do, however, want to point something out that I have found many people do as a substitute for forgiveness: Manipulation.
What is the point of this new documentary? What is it that Mr. Haggard feel he needs to show to others? Perhaps he wants everyone to know that he is paying the price for his “faults.” Maybe he wants to shed light on the church’s hypocrisy that relates to what Jesus spoke to in the Bible on unconditional love and forgiveness. Or maybe it’s his own PR move to get him back into the limelight that he so deeply loved. Whatever the reason, this film has nothing whatsoever to do with forgiveness, because Mr. Haggard has not forgiven himself.
Truly, if Ted Haggard had forgiven himself, he would have nothing to prove to anyone. And it’s this concept that goes for us all, for why would anyone feel the need to clear ones name or wedge themselves back into the good graces of others if they honestly thought they were blameless? Looking at my own life as an example, I have discovered that it’s so much easier to substitute other people’s approval and grace in place of my own…because who the hell wants to actually look deep inside…themselves!!!
I despise Ted Haggard, because there are times that I despise myself. I pity Ted Haggard, because there are times I pity myself. And I hope that Mr. Haggard will one day be able to look at himself, and with complete peace and love say, “I forgive you for the past,” because that is something I desire and hope for myself in the future.