How Could I? Choosing to Forgive

image

Forgiveness is Missing

The concept of forgiveness is unfortunately amiss in our world today, or so it seems.  Every time you turn on the television, or God forbid, pick up a newspaper, all you see is blame and resentment.

Quite honestly, if you spend any time engaging these two practices, it starts to seem that forgiveness is often unattainable.  Or, forgiveness is something that can only be granted by a judicial system that we’ve lost hope in.

It leads us to this conclusion of the golden rule:

Forgive unto others as we are done unto/We forgive based on what is done to us

Therefore, when the wrongs that are done are so hurtful and devastating, forgiveness is out of the question.

Is this a fair assessment of how you feel?

Unwrapping Forgiveness

Let’s start by unpacking the word and the concept of forgiveness:

Forgive – To grant pardon; to cease to feel resentment against

Both definitions start with ‘to grant’ and ‘to cease’; both are an action!  By definition, forgiveness is an action.  I think we often fall into the trap of believing that forgiveness has to do with how we feel.  It doesn’t!

To forgive is to simply make a decision, a choice; regardless of how you feel.

In an earlier post, I wrote about the incredible story of Gary Weller and how he chose forgiveness despite the most awful circumstances (read here)

If we now know that forgiveness is simply a choice, let’s break it down one step further:

There would be two choices in any circumstance; the choice to forgive and the choice not to forgive.  Play out those decisions in your mind.  What would it feel like to harbor resentment?  What would it feel like to forgive?

The truth is, resentment is like a hardened seed in your heart.  I refuse to believe that growth and greatness can come from a hardened bitter heart.  Essentially, choosing not to forgive keeps you from becoming the person you were made to be.

In my upcoming book, “You Make My Life Rich” I deal with the concept of brokenness; our struggles, our wounds.  I use the analogy of a forest fire.

Did you know that scientists have recognized that a forest fire is an essential part of the life cycle of that ecosystem?  When trees grow, they remove the rich nutrients from the soil and their foliage begins to shade the forest from receiving the light it needs.  A forest fire replaces the rich nutrients into the soil allowing the forest to rebuild.  In addition, the light can shine and bring the forest back to life.  Embracing our struggles allows us to gain a different perspective on our choice to forgive.  Our struggles and our pain allow our souls to grow and if we let the light in, we come back to life.

Andy Andrews is my favorite author and has written a great deal on the concept of forgiveness.  In fact, his 6th Decision for Personal Success is “I will greet this day with a forgiving spirit.”  Much of what I write comes from what I have learned from Andy.  I have included this excerpt below:

“Forgiveness is a secret that is hidden in plain sight.  It costs nothing and is worth millions.  It is available to everyone and used by few.  If you harness the power of forgiveness, you will be sought after and regarded highly.  And not coincidentally, you will also be forgiven by others…forgiveness only has value when it is given away.” – “The Traveler’s Gift”

I write about living richly.  It isn’t easy and that’s why so many fail to live that way. Forgiveness is essential in the process, but it won’t be easy.  Truth be told, it may be the most difficult.

Forgiveness allows us to take responsibility for our actions and move in the direction of our dreams, refusing to be bound by our circumstances; instead, rise above them.

Start with the choice to forgive.  Who is that person?  Maybe it’s the one staring at you in the mirror…

MH

While forgiveness has incredible implications in our walk of faith, this post looks at forgiveness from a secular view.  On Saturday, I will look at some spiritual principles.

, , , , ,

  • Pam

    Matt, this is so timely for me. I prayed about this very topic today. Thank you. Thank you everyday for sharing your thoughts and insights.

    • Pam – Very meaningful for you to share. Keep taking those steps!!

  • Marie Bryant

    Ah yes, forgiveness. It has given me peace in troubled times. It has let me sleep at night. It has freed me.

    • Marie –
      The freedom of forgiveness! I love it!

  • Robert

    Another great piece and again I think your right on the money.
    The hardest thing you will every do is turn the other cheek and forgive.

    • …and most of the time, the hardest things are often the most rewarding! Thanks Bobby!