“Please forgive me,” and “I forgive you” – possibly two of the most powerful statements, which have the biggest effect on all the people they’re uttered to or by.
As I ponder the idea of ‘forgiveness’ I realise that it’s a strange, complex animal that we all come into direct contact with at some point along our life journey – we often seek it and give it – it’s rare that we experience only the one side of this beast. And although often a difficult concept to grasp, it’s one that can have the most profound effect on peoples’ lives. It’s almost as if through tearing people to pieces, it builds them up at the same time. Something that often achieves liberation through pain.
I read a story today of a lady who’d had acid poured over her face because she wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal. It completely disfigured her face, and she’s blind as a result. Her attacker was found guilty by a court, and it was ordered that he have acid poured into one of his eyes, as a form of retribution for his victim. When it came to the point that a doctor was about to pour the acid into the attacker’s eyes (with his victim watching) she said, “I forgave him, I forgave him,” and asked the doctor not to go through with it.
I think too of people, in my own country, who’ve forgiven other individuals who killed their family members – people who viciously took the lives of children. Yet, they were forgiven.
It’s an idea I’m still trying to get used to. We humans are rather complex – much like sea anemones – have you ever stuck your finger into a sea anemone? It draws into itself, eager to protect and prevent pain. Or how about blowfish – their reactions are slightly different – instead of drawing into themselves, they blow up and inflict pain…still, in an attempt to protect and prevent pain. I guess that’s what we’re like – sea anemones with the potential to be blowfish.
Forgiveness isn’t easy – but what I’ve learned over many years and through numerous disappointments, is that it’s essential for those who have been wronged or hurt. It’s the first step taken on the road to recovery. We all know the statement “Forgive and forget” – it’s a rather ambitious statement I think – forgetting is quite hard – but surely it’s not impossible?
Jesus forgave. He forgave without terms and conditions. He forgave without a list of prerequisites. He simply forgave. And we will always fall short – but we can still strive to live as Jesus did – to follow his example, and so, live life.