Saturday, October 24, 2009

Forgiveness



One of the hardest lessons in life to learn is the ability to forgive.

When somebody does us wrong, or says something that hurts us deeply, or rejects us in some way, the last thing in the world we want to do is forgive that person. Clobber him on the head, maybe, but forgive? No way.

Personally, when someone criticizes me, I want to get away from that person and run for the hills. To forgive the critic takes superhuman strength. The ego, after all, is sometimes made of eggshells that are easily crushed.

I've been known to hold a few grudges over the years, too, usually over being hurt or insulted in some way. It's so easy to let resentment and anger churn like a volcano in one's heart. It takes some doing to cool down and forgive.

Once, when I was furious at someone, a wise friend shared some good advice, based firmly in Twelve Step philosophy. (The Twelve Steps are adhered to in Alcoholics Anonymous and related programs.) She told me to get down on my knees and pray for the person's "happiness, peace, and prosperity."

"WHAT?" I gasped. "Pray for that so and so's happiness, peace, and prosperity after what he did?" That was the LAST thing I wanted to do. Instead of listening to my ranting and raving, my friend told me not only to pray for the "enemy's" happiness, peace, and prosperity, but to do it on my knees, even if I had to pray through gritted teeth.

Well, I was willing to give it a shot because I was absolutely miserable carrying the anger. After a few days of praying for the person's "happiness, peace, and prosperity," it was less difficult to do and after a couple of weeks, an almost impossible transformation took place. I no longer had raging anger toward the person. I realized that he was really not responsible for some of the behavior. He had been given a pretty rotten deck of cards in life and had, in reality, suffered some pretty difficult abuse. No wonder he acted the way he did.

While I never became kissing cousins with the person, I was able to eventually feel more compassion toward him than anger. Forgiving him felt good.

As Norman Cousins, author of "Anatomy of An Illness" once said,
"Do you prefer that you be right or happy?"

I decided it was more beneficial to me to be happy.

There have been poems written that refer to forgiveness as the scent a flower leaves on the heel that crushes it. Think about that. One steps on a fragrant violet and the most lovely scent is the result! That's a nice analogy.

Even Mahatma Gandhi coined some pretty convincing words about forgiveness:

"The weak can never forgive," he said. "Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Of course, the greatest act of forgiveness is well known to Christians everywhere, through Jesus Christ. Before He took His last breath on the cross, Jesus' last words, amid all the suffering, were,

"Father, forgive them,for they know not what they do."

Forgiveness helps us to become better human beings---happier and more peaceful.
At this stage of life, I want peace more than money, or prestige, or anything else.

Peace is achieved through forgiveness--what a good lesson to learn.

1 comment:

Diane said...

Good philosophy of life....pray for the people you would like to clobber...I'll remember that! XO Diane

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