To Forgive

Preachers and philosophers can extol the value of forgiveness until the cows come home, yet too many of us give only passing notice in their advice. The hearts of society and its leaders are deep abysses that we will rarely find forgiveness. Ages old grudges and rivalries not only tear at the heartstrings, but threaten the very survival of our species.

Those of us who learn the immense value of tolerance, acceptance, and forgiveness have found the keys to everlasting learning, growth, and a joyful heart. Every time we forgive, we alter our lives in unforeseen, positive ways. Have you noticed that forgiveness often leads to forms of tolerance and acceptance, too?

We are held captive by our beliefs and our grudges. The unwillingness to forgive, sentences us to a term in the penitentiary of the mind. If the grudge is serious and is physically carried out, it can also sentence one to a term in the penitentiary of the state. Theologian Lewis B. Smedes wrote, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” That’s an amazing point of view. So, it is in our best interest to serve the shortest prison sentence of the mind and avoid the prison sentence of the state.

President John F. Kennedy understood the value of forgiveness, he also knew not to be naïve about it. “Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.” To follow Kennedy’s maxim brings about a clear head yet also allows for vigilance. In effect, he said you can be open-hearted without becoming a doormat or a people pleaser.

All of the wisdom traditions and most of the religions have teachings relating to forgiveness. They have taught that when we fail to forgive, we become hard-hearted, compassionless, resentful, and hateful. This deficit of compassion leaves us to wallow in self-pity, and to fantasize passionately about the demise of our adversaries. All one must do to see the results of the failure to forgive is to listen to newscasts. They relay accounts of the crimes and wars that self-centeredness and lack of forgiveness bring forth.

Of course, all of us have done and said things that we have regretted and lost sleep over. This is why making amends and asking for forgiveness is important for our well-being. At the same time it is important to forgive oneself after a period of genuine remorse. Doing right to yourself and others opens the heart and allows one to peacefully fall asleep at night.

It’s easy to preach and write about forgiveness. As in all matters, there is more power in the doing than in the saying and writing of mere words. It is good to acknowledge that its not always easy to find that place in the heart to forgive the people and circumstances that cause us harm. However, persisting to discover the place that enables forgiveness will eventually set us free.

The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Martin Luther King, Junior. “We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.”

About swabby429

An eclectic guy who likes to observe the world around him and comment about those observations.
This entry was posted in Contemplation, Health, religion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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