It is known as the “Victory Formation”. It is when a team with the lead, and controlling the remaining seconds on the game clock, takes a knee at the end of the game. They have no fear of losing. Their victory is sealed. Let the celebration begin.
In most places in life, taking a knee has the opposite meaning. It is a moment of vulnerability. It is the ultimate expression of placing your ego in the hands of another, and giving them permission to write on your heart, for better, or for worse.
When you ask someone out on a date, you are taking a knee.
When you ask someone to look over your writing, review your project, or consider your plan, you are taking a knee.
Few moments, however, are more raw, more vulnerable, or more fraught with fear, than asking someone for their forgiveness.
In that moment, you are taking a knee. You are waiting, submitting your pride, your reputation, and your relationship, to the inclination of someone else. And not just any random person, but you are placing your ego into the hands of someone that may have reason to crush you. To hurt you.
Asking for forgiveness can be so difficult. It is heart-wrenching. It mandates that I own my fault. That I admit my sin. That I accept my mistake. That I look solely in the mirror and deal with the reflection, not parsing out the blame to other people involved. Even when I see THEIR FAULT so clearly, and my fault seems so small and murky. I have to face the reality that I can’t change them. I can’t make them address their issues. I can only deal with my own.
It is frightening, because what if they say “no”?
What if they refuse to forgive me?
What if they first need to turn that knife in my heart, and make sure I see how fully I have hurt them?
What if they want to pile on?
What if they have also hurt me, and my heart is still troubled and wanting them to own their fault against me?
What if they seemingly never apologize when they have hurt me?
Or how do we ask for forgiveness when we have let down the very people that we are supposed to be leading? Our children? Our students? Our staff?
Asking for forgiveness can be anxiety-inducing, but it is the way to freedom. It is the path to cleaning the slate, at least with myself. In most cases, when I have felt the need to clear myself with a family member or friend, they have been quick to absolve me of my errors. They picked me back up and dusted me off. They made sure our relationship was restored, and made even stronger in the process.
And in the rare cases when someone wasn’t ready to forgive me, my action of requesting their mercy at least freed from the weight of my mistake. By leaving that acknowledgement at their feet, I gave them the freedom to deal with the hurt when they were ready.
Taking a knee requires strength, courage, and resolve. It is a victory formation – the victory of letting go of blaming; the victory of accepting my imperfection; the victory of community; and the declaration that we need one another, even on a spiritual / soul level of forgiveness.
Asking for forgiveness reminds me of a time, a place, and a person who was willing to take a knee to absolve me of all my faults. It reminds me of a man who humbled himself to death on a cross. It reminds me that I don’t need to give way to fear, because my victory is already sealed.
Let the celebration begin.