Friday, June 17, 2011

The Art of Forgiveness

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." - Mahatma Ghandi

We must learn to Forgive. Truly we must.

I was with a Pastor friend recently, and he talked to me about Forgiveness, a concept that I also speak to people about, know alot about, and make a concerted effort to practice, or so I thought...

However, after the conversation with him, I knew that he had been inspired not only to pass on a message to me, but to further enlighten me on a necessary topic that is so fundamental to our Growth.

We are told to "Forgive...AND Forget." Many of us say; "I have forgiven him/her, but I will NEVER forget what he/she did to me!" And here in is the crux of the matter. The heart of Forgiveness lies in the "Forgetting". I know I forgive easily, but I would be lying if I say I forget. In fact "forgetting" is actually the hardest part. (Maybe this post should be titled "The Art of Forgetting"...)

"The stupid neither forgive nor forget; the naive forgive and forget; the wise forgive but do not forget." - Thomas Szasz

Which category do we fall into? I know until a few years ago, I was one of "The Stupid". And before talking to the Man of God the other day, I was one of "The Wise" (and proud of it) according to Thomas Szasz's quote. But now, I strive to become one of "The Naive", and this is the "most humongous" (as my children will say) challenge of all. As I mention children, it unwittingly comes to me that indeed they are the most naive of all!

"I tell you the truth, unless you change and Become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." - this Bible chapter comes to my mind as I type. I think it is to be found in the Book of Matthew.

So if we cannot enter the Kingdom except we are naive (like children), then by implication we cannot truly forgive except we forget. It IS that simple.

Now you all want to ask me "how does one forget?", and I will be reminding you here that it is also new to me, so I cannot readily answer. But, I do know there are several things I DO forget...

I forget my passwords ALL the time. I forget my ATM code. I forget my bank account numbers (I never know them in the first place). I forget names of people from the past (mostly those I didn't interact with). There is no limit to the things I forget. Why do I forget these things? And why do I not "Forget" even while "Forgiving" (supposedly) those who have seemingly wronged me.

I realize that I forget the things I do either because I have so many other "more important" things on my mind, or because so much time has passed that it has been erased from my memory.

Eureka! As I say this the answer comes! To forget does not mean to "not remember", it means to put in the back of our memory. To not keep in the forefront. This means not talking about it ever again to anyone (we all know repition reinforces), and after a while it stays there.

To forget would mean to me now, as I think about it, filling my mind with other thoughts. Thoughts that Uplift and Enlighten and not thoughts that will hold one down or keep one attached to the subject of one's attention.

"Holding on to anger (not forgiving) is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned." - Buddha

All of a sudden this quote takes on an even deeper meaning. Now I see that what the Pastor said is Truth, for one who has forgiven and who is sincerely struggling to forget (i.e to put it away), will not talk about the incidents nor the people involved to any other. They will only commune with their God, and He alone is it who can Heal the hurting, Comfort those in despair and Forgive us our own sins.

Yes! That is right! We pray, fast and beg God for unconditional Forgiveness! If He were to hold on to it like "The Wise" in Thomas Szasz's quote, where would that leave us? We must not "Forget" this!

Thus, as I struggle to absorb this Truth, and Live it, I leave you with my favorite Psalm (121):

"I will lift up my eyes to the hills-
From whence comes my help?
My Help comes from The Lord
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to Be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and coming in
From this time forth, and even forever more."

Salam. Be Blessed.xx