The Art Of Forgiveness
Within my social network I have recently read about a few people having to deal with forgiveness … the ability to forgive and if someone is “worthy” of forgiveness. It all started when I read a blog post about the pain of re-living past events … it was hard to read and I am sure, even harder to post! I commented on this “friends” (used loosely as “one who writes a blog I read” kinda way) post regarding my thoughts on forgiveness and I was surprised to read the comments from other readers. They ranged from “I am sorry” to “Screw the bastard” … I began to realize many people do not understand what forgiveness is, how to forgive and what is the next step after forgiving.
Forgiveness has roots in many religions – Buddhism talks about it as a practice to prevent harmful thoughts from causing havoc on one’s mental well-being. Christianity is largely based on forgiveness and Jesus often speaks to Christians about forgiving or showing mercy towards others. Asking for forgiveness is very much a part of the practice of Hinduism. Islam teaches that God (Allah) is ‘the most forgiving’, and is the original source of all forgiveness, along with that the Qur’an makes it clear that, whenever possible, it is better to forgive another than to attack another and in Judaism if a person causes harm, but then sincerely and honestly apologizes to the wronged individual and tries to rectify the wrong, the wronged individual is religiously required to grant forgiveness … religiously required, Seriously!?!?
Back in 1988 the Gallup Organization took a “large representative sampling of American people” on various religious topics and found that 94% said it was “Important to forgive” however, 85% said they needed “Outside help to be able to forgive.” Nobody understands … Forgiveness is NOT for the recipient … it is “FOR” the “GIVER” … the person who is able to forgive those who have wronged them – is no longer wronged. Do not read that as “I’ll let you do whatever you want to me and it’s OK” – but more like “Understand there are consequences for your actions, however, YOUR actions do not control me!”
Henri Nouwen said:
“When we become aware that we do not have to escape our pains, but that we can mobilize them into a common search for life, those very pains are transformed from expressions of despair into signs of hope”
This is a great quote … a “common search for life” is a perfect phrase because it’s what we are all doing on Earth. Living, learning, searching … when we understand that our pains are experiences that shape us into who we are and we can actually live in the pain and survive, we become empowered! For me, when I forgive someone, I am able to feel the pain – learn the lesson (trust me, there is one!) – So I can live my life as an example to others. My forgiveness is not for the person who acted against me. Honestly, I do not care how that person “feels” or if they are able to live with themselves. My act of forgiveness is my ability to let go of the action, understand that I do not control anyone other than myself. Learn the lesson by seeing the warning signs and not allow the same thing to happen over and over.
Being able to forgive takes practice, it is an art in ways. Forgiveness takes focus, determination, drive, passion and vision … forgiving is not something that “comes easy” … forgiveness HURTS … forgiving sucks most of the time. Just like any transition in life, changing one’s self is uncomfortable – however, the end result is so sweet.
What is your struggle with forgiveness? What do you find yourself agonizing over – when faced with having to practice forgiving those who do you wrong?