Display until March 24, 2015
The Neatest Little Paper Ever Read ®
By Ron Ross
Forgiveness may be the highest demonstration of love there is. It’s easy to demonstrate love with a hug, a gift, some time together, some encouraging words, or an act of service. But to forgive? Oh boy, that’s a different story.
When someone hurts us, puts us down, or out-and-out whacks us with nasty words and deeds, our psyche is damaged, our self-esteem injured and we don’t like it. “How dare you …” we complain! Insult me, and I feel it to the bone. Trip me up, and I fall on my face, it hurts, and I want you to hurt too – so I look for a way to pay you back
Unless, of course, someone decides to forgive. When forgiveness is offered and received, look what happens:
First, humility happens: forgiveness demonstrates humility. Forgiveness demands someone say, “I’m sorry. It was my fault.” It means admitting that I’m not perfect – or even near perfect but a messed up human being trying to figure out life. It’s an admission of our humanity and our potential for inhumanity.
Humility is also demonstrated when the offended one offers forgiveness. You hit me, and I most likely want to hit you back. But, if you hit me and then I forgive you without you first asking for forgiveness, you have a decision to make: punish me or pardon me? The right thing to do is to quiet your pride, set aside your pain, and acknowledge your mistake, and humbly receive the sincerely offered pardon. Forgiveness demonstrates humility.
Second, healing happens: forgiveness facilitates healing. When forgiveness is offered and received, healing begins. I know a family where one brother swindled his sister’s family out of $65,000. The mother of the children (both grown adults) lamented to me, “My son and daughter won’t even be in the same room together. This means I will never have a big family picture with both of my children and all my grandchildren.”
It would take a mighty big person to forgive a blood brother and his 65K swindle. But what if it happened? What if he asked forgiveness? Or what if the swindled forgave the swindler? Cousins would once again play together, grandchildren would see grandmother, and anger would give way to mercy, and the family wound would heal. Forgiveness facilitates healing.
Third, happiness happens: forgiveness rejuvenates happiness. Perhaps the best thing that happens when forgiveness is offered and received is that sneers into smiles, dissonance becomes dialogue, and regret turns into delight. To be unforgiving is to restrain mercy, seethe with anger, and hinder happiness. But when forgiveness comes, the storms calm, clouds lift, and the sun shines again.
You cannot be happy and unforgiving at the same time; they are incompatible emotions. Author Bryant H. McGill says, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”
When forgiveness is offered and received, humility is demonstrated, healing is facilitated, and happiness is rejuvenated. There is no happiness in blame, no pardon in punishment, and no mercy in cruelty; it’s all bad. And that is why “forgiveness” is such a wonderful, life-lifting word, a word Jesus taught us to use when we pray: “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”
©2014 Ronald D. Rosss
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