The Selfless Act of Enduring Love – Forgiveness
Forgiveness is such a rich topic. We can forgive at any time we choose, but the paradox is we never forget what we forgave. Why is that so? It seems to be a very hard thing for people to do. It is so freeing to forgive, to let go of past upsets and to move forward.
Since stories usually best exemplify what is meant and the lesson to be learned, let me share a story with you. This is a true story of an extra-ordinary man who forgave.
The man’s mother, a grandmother to his children, took the same route everyday to do her marketing. She crossed several streets on her way; one particular street had a blind curve in it. As fate would have it one day a delivery truck rounded the corner, struck the woman and she died. The upset driver was taken to police headquarters for questioning.
The adult son learned of the tragedy and went to the police station to understand what had happened. The police told him of the accident explaining it was unintentional as his mother stepped off the curb into the path of the truck. Obviously shaken and distressed about having just lost his mother he asked if he could see the driver. The police were reluctant to let him see the man thinking he wanted to extract some sort of revenge on the poor driver. After some convincing words the police escorted him to see the driver.
With both men in tears, the son told the driver that he knew he did not set out that day to kill his mother. He knew it was an accident and not deliberate. He also told the man that he did not want to add to his burden and pain and wanted him to know that he forgave him for the accident. The police were totally taken aback by the generosity of the son and his willingness to forgive the man.
This selfless act of forgiveness would never take away the pain the driver felt or bring back the woman, but it started the healing process for them both.
Without the forgiveness both men would have been enslaved to unnecessary hate, anger and self recrimination. Resentment and bitterness would have taken root. Unforgiving people are held in their past, with all its hurt and pain, venom and poison, unable to move forward in life.
Forgiveness requires a high degree of responsibility. Taking responsibility requires one to give up blame and look to the true source of the action. In the case of the son above an accident was the cause and forgiveness an honorable thing to do.
But, what would happen if an incident were intentional? What then about forgiveness? Surely we’ve all felt like we’ve been taken advantage of or wronged at one point in our lives or another. What then of forgiveness?
I can tell you, from firsthand experience, even if an offense were intentional, forgiveness, as difficult as it might be to give, is the best course of action.
Having had $35,000 due to me not paid consumed my entire existence. Everything in my life revolved around “getting back at” the person who stole my money. I had earned it legitimately and I was due it. Even with all my thoughts of revenge the money was not coming… ever, and it took me years to forgive over and over again until I was able to finally put it behind me. My whole life was on hold because of an obsession.
Once I forgave I was able to move forward and live again. I only wish today it hadn’t taken me so long to forgive and move on.
One final point about forgiveness needs to be mentioned. It starts with forgiving yourself. If you don’t forgive yourself for your mistakes, the hurtful things you said or thought healing cannot begin. We are all human and subject to these hard and emotional choices. Choose to forgive yourself first and the rest will come with ease.
Quotes about forgiveness:
“Any fool knows men and women think differently at times, but the biggest difference is this. Men forget, but never forgive; women forgive, but never forget.”
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.”
“The truth is, unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
“Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too.”
“To be wronged is nothing, unless you continue to remember it.”
“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
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