Jesus preached forgiveness from the cross. Those closest to him had betrayed him, denied him or run. Some who had had healed, help put him there. This last prayer was a selfless act. To reach this place cost him everything. Not everyone agreed with him then, and many today find this a difficult message.
In recent times the acts of national leaders to demonstrate this message of forgiveness has made a powerful impact on their country. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a court-like body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid. Anyone who felt that he or she was a victim of its violence was invited to come forward and be heard. Perpetrators of violence could also give testimony and request amnesty from prosecution.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that it had been an incredible privilege for those who had served the Commission to preside over the process of healing a traumatized and wounded people. He used Henri Nouwen's phrase 'wounded healers', a symbol possibly of Jesus on the cross. Not everybody in South Africa shared this conviction.
On February 13th, 2008, Aboriginal people all across Australia were deeply moved and in tears: The Prime Minister of Australia, Kevin Rudd, had finally apologized to the Stolen Generations and said 'sorry'. Many felt this was the start of a healing process that would heal their nation. Others were opposed to this message
Saying that they were not responsible for the work of previous Governments.
Everyday there are expressions of forgiveness from individuals that often astound the world around them. How do you forgive someone for murdering your son or daughter? How do you forgive a spouse for unfaithfulness? Or a business partner for making off with all your money? Yet people do forgive these things.
What is Forgiveness? What good does it do? Many who are in recovery find this a difficult concept to grasp.
CS Lewis said "We all agree that forgiveness is a beautiful idea until we have to practice it."
Here are ten reasons why forgiveness is an important part of recovery and indeed for anyone who wishes
To move on in a positive way with their lives.
1. Forgiveness is a healing process
Often we can not start this process alone. It depends on a number of factors. How and when we were hurt and by what. How did we react at that time. What did we come to believe about ourselves because of this. Remember that forgiveness is a process and the healing can take time. There is no quick fix.
2. Forgiveness is an act of the will
Many think that forgiveness is an act that comes out of a felt emotion. Certainly, there is an emotional dimension to healing and forgiveness. But at it's basic level, you must choose to forgive. It may not be easy but you must decide to take this course it is a choice.
3. Forgiveness is a sign of positive self esteem
Sometimes the most difficult act of forgiveness is to forgive yourself. This opens the door to be able to forgive others. It is often said that forgiveness boosts your self esteem. When we no longer want to see ourselves in the light of our past hurts and injustices, and come to believe the truth about ourselves, we feel better inside and out.
4. Forgiveness is letting go
Forgiving is not forgetting: It is letting go of anger and hurt and moving on. It does not change what happened. Letting go means that the pain from our past no longer has a hold on us. This makes a way for us to set new plans for our future. Forgiveness means letting go so that we can move on.
5. Forgiveness is an internal process
Forgiveness is an internal process. It can not be forced, and it does not come easy. It brings with it great feelings of wellness and freedom. But we experience this only when we want to heal and when we are willing to work for it. We claim the right to stop hurting when we say, "I'm tired of the pain, and I want to be healed." At that moment, forgiveness becomes a possibility-although it may take time and much hard work before we finally achieve it.
6. Forgiveness is recognizing that we no longer need our grudges
Dante used the phrase: "The wrathful travel in a cloud". Their outlook on life is distorted because their inner condition is affected by hate. It does not make sense to remain unforgiving. Nursing grudges works like acid on the soul. We are not able to see straight, literally and spiritually.
7. Forgiveness is no longer wanting to punish people
The anger we feel toward them is hurting us more than it hurts them. The anger was stopping the healing. We feel that inner healing and the peace that goes with it. Forgiveness is accepting that nothing we do to punish the offender will heal us. Forgiveness is freeing up the energy that was sent in anger and channeling it into our present and future.
8. Forgiveness offers a chance at reconciliation
It was stated in a previous article that forgiveness is not reconciliation. Reconciliation is restoring a relationship to a positive state. This is not possible if the perpetrator has died, or a former spouse has remarried. Reconciliation goes beyond forgiveness and may generally not be possible if forgiveness has not taken place. If someone says that they have forgiven a person yet they avoid that person at all costs – it is likely that some deep seatedment is still there.
9. Forgiveness is the only way to heal the pain
We make a decision to say that we are sick and tired of this pain, we do not want to be a victim any longer, and need to deal with the pain in a positive way. Then we know that the road to recovery is possible and forgiveness is taking place.
10. Forgiveness is freedom
Forgiveness is freeing up the energy. Forgiving someone means that you have released them from the consequences of their action to you so that you can be free. Those who hold resentment in their heart are in no position to withstand any of the storms of life. Your own personal vision of inner peace and what you want your life to become is available when you forgive.
Here are 4 questions to ask yourself: –
A. How has your unforgiveness / resentment affected you?
B. Do you understand the need to forgive?
C. Can you make a list of those who have hurt you that you need to forgive?
D. Will you forgive them?