Forgiveness is such a big phenomenon. It cannot be fully discussed in length, even if we choose to keep talking about it from now till any day. It is dynamic, it is not constant. There will always be more to say, more to teach, more to learn and more to know about it. It is a lifetime practice. Better put, it is a lifestyle.
“To err is human, to forgive, divine.” -Alexander Pope.
If you read my last article, you would realize this is my second post on forgiveness. You can read the previous article here THE ONE CHARACTER YOU MUST POSSESS – FORGIVENESS
This post will be focusing more and enlightening us on what it really means to forgive. And how we can really know we have truly and indeed forgiven someone.
As mentioned in the previous post, “forgiveness is defined as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.” – Anonymous.
Practising forgiveness is one of the best favors a man can do for himself. And as such, it is a highly significant way of freeing himself from any form of heartache or bitterness, and inviting peace into his life. Mahatma Gandhi once wrote, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Since forgiveness is more of a personal conviction, how do we realize we are not just lying to ourselves for the sake of pleasing the world. Or simply because we have been told and preached to, to forgive? How do we know?
For some of us, the resentment has become deeply rooted as it has stayed so long in our heart that we think we just can’t let go- no matter how much we try, no matter how much we want to. It seems like a lot of work and effort to put in if we decide to forgive; Hence, we try to convince ourselves that we have forgiven the party because that way, it is easier for us. Don’t get me wrong, you’re not a bad person for doing this. In fact, you may not even be aware of this action. So, how do you know you’re not just deceiving yourself?
One way I have devised of recognizing if you are yet to render forgiveness to someone is, when you consistently find yourself uttering the words “I can never forget that fateful day” in an unhappy or a bitter way.
To make my point clearer, allow me to share this short story of Sarah and her uncle, Joel.
Sarah was a girl from a Godly background. She was well brought up and had been taught the principles of forgiveness by her parents. Right from when she was young, she knew it was God’s command to forgive anyone who had hurt her. She took it as an obligation. She understood what forgiveness was, at least, she thought she did.
Until that fateful day when Joel came visiting and she muttered the words again for the umpteenth time, “I can never forget that day,” with the memories of the particular incidence flooding through her mind as though it was just happening afresh. The incidence happened five years ago.
Sarah was 8, she had just had an accident. She fell from a storey building and hurt her leg, which led to her temporary paralysis, and she could not walk for weeks. She was treated at home by their family doctor who always came to give her medicine and massage the broken leg.
On one of Sarah’s appointment days with the family doctor, her uncle, Joel, who was 10, came to pay them a visit. He sat beside Sarah on the bed. His eyes fixed on his phone, paying little or no attention to Sarah. The doctor massaged Sarah’s leg. And as usual, Sarah started crying.
Of course, the routine was a painful one. In the process of her agony, Sarah rolled over to Joel, tears all over her face, mucus running down her nose, which she unconsciously rubbed on Joel’s skin. She was indirectly seeking comfort. But she was disappointed because the opposite of comfort was exactly what she got when she saw Joel’s reaction and heard the words that came out of his mouth.
“Move aside! Ewww, just look at how you are staining me with so much spit and tears.” Joel uttered, with so much disgust written all over his face. On saying that, he returned his attention to his phone.
Of course, Joel was young too, both of them were. But little did he know the gravity of what he had done that day, little did he know how much he’d hurt Sarah. Ever since then, if there ever was a time that the two of them had the opportunity to be together, Sarah would always bring up the matter jokingly and ended it with “I will never forget that day.”
However, to Sarah, she had completely forgiven him. She held no grudges against him. After all, he was her uncle, one she loved very much. But there they were again, five years later, and Sarah still kept chewing the same words.
Fortunately, the last day Sarah uttered the statement was the day her mother was present. She could read her daughter’s reaction like a book. She realized it was not a laughing matter, she knew Sarah had not let go of the issue in her heart.
So, she did what any reasonable and wise mother would do, she asked Joel to apologize to Sarah. Both Sarah and Joel looked at each other, and laughed. Neither of them took Sarah’s mother seriously, Sarah herself didn’t think Joel needed to apologize for anything. After all “I have forgiven him a long time ago” she told herself. But her mother insisted that Joel should apologize, which he eventually did.
Sarah smiled broadly. It was right then that she realized she had been nurturing the occurrence in her heart. She never let go, she only thought she did. But now, she felt the anger wore away like a shore. She became completely relieved.
Ever since that day after Joel’s apology, she never had the course to bring up the incidence anymore, not even as a joke. Wow! The power of forgiveness, it is so much more than what we perceive it to be.
However, in your own case, you may not get the “sorry” that Sarah got, but that is not the point. The point is for you to realize that it takes more than just saying that you have forgiven someone to really forgive them. You have to control and free your mind from any form of anger or resentment. You need to train your mind not to get angry at the slightest thought of the incidence as well.
Also, remind yourself not to always talk about it at every chance you get. Doing that would mean you are still holding on to the incidence. Most importantly, the one person that you really need to forgive is YOU.
Let’s have another take home that can help in practising forgiveness.
F – Find a place in your heart
O – Or create one
R – Remember to be sincere
G – Go into a quite place
I – If that works best for you
V – Visualize the situation
E – Expel any discouraging voice
N – Never allow a thought of deviation
E – Envisage yourself letting go
S – Say it in your mind
S – Say it out loud!
Remember, if it still upsets you, it’s because it still hurts you. And the only reason it still hurts you, is because you are yet to fully let go, and forgive. Once you can let go, it will hurt no more.
Also, remember that it doesn’t happen overnight. It requires constant practice and “self -sincerity”. But once it’s done, you will feel a heavy burden lifted off your shoulder. You will feel free!
I hope this short article has helped us to understand what it really means to forgive someone. Don’t forget to drop your comments and share your opinions with us in the comment box. How else do you think we can know we have indeed forgiven someone? I’m looking forward to reading from you. And remember though what you read here may not be new to you, it is definitely new to someone else.