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Why Forgiveness Matters

April 14, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 191

"Bitterness is the poison I drink thinking the other person will die."AUTHOR UNKNOWN

Time has honored no mystery greater than that of Forgiveness. For centuries, theologians and philosophers have grappled with its complexity and its power.

Yet, even in today's world, few answers satisfy the human longing to resolve its ambivalent hold on us.

We value forgiveness; yet under the same breath, we wear grudges like a pair of old but loved shoes.

Forgiveness, however we may amplify its importance, is distasteful to the palate of pleasure. We would rather chew on bitterness, smell silent revenge and drink the poison of resentment. Getting back is often a greater force than moving forward - especially when we have entered the dark dungeon of feeling betrayed.

When at an early age, we begin to experience life's betrayals, we learn the art of striking back. Rain spoils our parade, wind knocks us off our bike, bullies kick us from behind and friends gossip about us. With even the best of intentions by those who love us, we are thrown under the bus and we learn that we must defend ourselves from hurt and pain.

We also internalize, rightly or wrongly, that we somehow are to blame for the pain around us. Many children, exposed to the dangers of the world, take on a responsibility and an expectation that "only if I." The young and primitive brain kicks in - we wish to find a way to survive - to feel a shield of protection and power. We don't know how to release our anger and fear and when we look for models of coping, we see little if any genuine forgiveness. Hearing the tone with which the often spoken phrase, "I forgive but I won't forget," is communicated, we know that the statement spells cynicism more than truth. We quickly internalize the need to wear the armor of self-protection in our quest for safety.

Whether it be roaming through the house of loathing, renting the apartment of silent treatment, or employing words that harm another's self-image - life becomes all about self-protection. And forgiveness of a perceived wrongdoing, however inaccurate the perception may be, is parked in a lot far away.

If and when we are graced enough to gradually peel the layers of our fears and protective instincts learned as a child, we begin to realize another truth - that no one is immune from hurt, from suffering, from life's afflictions. With honest reflection, we face the fact that everyone - regardless of their background or class, is an imperfect yet worthwhile human being - who deserves to be favored with a forgiving attitude. The due diligence eventually leads us to self-evaluation and we become aware that the most important person to forgive is our very self.

For just as life inflicts harm on us, we accept the hurt inflicted upon others. We've lied, cheated, stolen, judged, scorned and violated other people's rights. Our rational abilities lead us to the conclusion that if we can't forgive ourselves, how can we forgive others?

So why does forgiveness matter? Put simply, if we can't find motivations other than anger, revenge or cynicism from which to live, we'll never reach forgiveness. There will be good reason to conclude that we will have become little more than walking zombies.

When life hurts us or we hurt another life, we have the choice of two paths. We can take steps to move beyond the hurt and reinvest in life or we can become frozen in bitterness and ultimately, self-loathing and self-pity. It is indeed, a matter of life and death.

Hell has been cast as raging and eternal flames. But perhaps ice is a better image - to become so frozen that the heart barely pumps is to tragically commit a slow but steady suicide- either into drugs, work, sex, relational drama, greed, violence or emotional isolation.

Life is a roller coaster of interactions and relationships. To be a member of society, we must accept that those very interactions that are at the heart of joyful living are also the very core of hurt and pain. To experience genuine forgiveness, we cease looking for an end to scars - they are permanent; or playing the game of persecutor and victim - they are doomed to fail. We must surrender our power to forgive over to a higher power and continue to believe in life, love and service.

In surrendering, we become resolved in meditation that the pain we are currently experiencing must be held and healed, that life can find rebirth from suffering and death, and that whatever revenge there is can be transformed into a desire for growth, acceptance and new behaviors that will lead to a deeper peace and joy.

And so we pray for the one who hurts us and ask a power greater than self to guide them on their own path of growth and forgiveness of self.

With such a change of attitude, the question becomes not so much why forgiveness matters, but how life could matter at all without it.

Why does forgiveness matter? Because ultimately, it slows down the wrinkling of the soul and cleans out the arteries of the spirit.

Source: EzineArticles
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