The best definition of forgiveness I’ve heard, “Let go of the notion that there can be a different or better yesterday.” I have memorized this, and when tempted to become bitter toward a life event or recent experience, it is silently repeated until I can forgive, either myself or others.
As a straight-line thinker, High C personality from the DISC Realm, I prefer logic to solve problems. The above definition of forgiveness is quite logical. We cannot go back in time to undo, redo, or otherwise tweak the past. Back To The Future is a fun movie to watch; yet even Marty McFly was surprised with the effects of messing with the Past. It’s history, and it belongs behind us.
There’s a reason automotive manufactures put large windshields in front of us and provide for only an itty-bitty rearview mirror. Seems silly to mention, but we are the safest when looking forward, down the road in front of us, and through that big windshield.
Yes, the rearview mirror is important to remember what we’re leaving behind. And to make sure nothing is sneaking up on us. One other quite functional use is to check the wide-eyed wonder of children on road trips. Oh, and the women are reminding me that it also works to check for any makeup blemishes.
Funny thing, though — as much as I function on logic, warmth and calmness are the emotions when I say either to myself or give voice when sharing with others, “Let go of the notion that there can be a different or better yesterday.”
Now, let’s look at what the Sages of the Ages have to offer as encouragement for us to forgive ourselves and others to have peace of mind.
Forgive How Many Times?!
In the olden days, there was a fellow named Peter who discovered a Hero, to be his mentor. One day, Peter was having a bad hair day, and believed it to be caused by a different friend of his.
Peter asked his Hero, “Just how many times do you think I should forgive this guy, seven?” The mentor replied, “You’re gonna need to use your superman qualities and be ready to forgive the fellow seventy times seven.”
As a bona fide Certified Public Accountant, I can do that math: 70 x 7 = 490
That, my friends, is a whole lot of forgiving. As a teenager milking four dairy cows by hand morning and night, I developed a three-strike rule. Sad but true, until recently, I’ve been childish in carrying that rule forward into adulthood.
No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!Good Book
The Benefit of Forgiveness Is Ours
Mother Nature hates a vacuum. Whatever seeds we allow to be planted in our minds will grow and produce fruit of that variety. And it is impossible to hold two opposing thoughts in our mind at the same time. We choose to either LOVE or hate.
Without forgiveness, bitterness and resentment typically take root.
Resentment Is Like Taking Poison and Waiting for the Other Person To DieQuote Investigator
As food for thought, here are other variations on the above quote:
- Resentment is like a poison we carry around inside us with the hope that when we get the chance, we can deposit it where it will harm another who has injured us. The fact is that we carry this poison at extreme risk to ourselves.
- How many times do you poison yourself with a Grouch? Cut out the Grouch and you’ll put five to twenty years usefulness onto the end of your life. Because cutting out the Grouch means cutting out the dose of poison you take every time you have one.
- No Scientific Christian ever considers hatred or execration to be “justifiable” in any circumstances, but whatever your opinion about that might be, there is no question about its practical consequences to you. You might as well swallow a dose of prussic acid in two gulps and think to protect yourself with vitriol.
- Americans will remember Pearl Harbor. The British will recall the horror of the blitz. Germans will have the remembrance of bombs that fell from Allied planes. The victims of brutality will not find it easy to forget or to forgive. Yet hate is a poison more deadly to the hater than the hated.
- Understand that resentment is the most potent poison generated in the human body. It causes physical and spiritual wreckage if allowed to boil within.
- Being resentful is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die. The goal is not to forgive and forget, but to grieve and let go.
- Anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela, when talking about forgiveness, once said hatred is like drinking poison and then waiting for it to kill your enemy.
No doubt about it; it’s hard to let go and forgive when someone has hurt or mistreated us. The sense of justice within us says it’s just not right that they hurt us. But forgiveness is a decision we make to release the other person from what they did, whether they confess or not.
The good news is forgiveness sets you free. It’s been said that forgiveness is letting the prisoner free and then realizing you were the one behind bars. Forgiveness helps you release anger and resentment.
Love Our Enemies
Yes, when reminded to do this, I tend to balk, too. However recently, I read the Rest of the Story to realize, “We’re not alone in our daily effort to fix what is broken.”
When someone with the Power to heal the deformed is condemned by the local yokels, then we find ourselves in extraordinarily great company.
He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So, the man held out his hand, and it was restored! At this, His enemies were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.Good Book
Short version of the story is they killed Him.
Although before they did, our Hero had a word of encouragement for us.
To you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.Good Book
This is THE Way to push anger and resentment out of our psyche.
Do we change the character of our enemies, the haters, the vulgar, or the abusers?
Simple answer: No.
Why, then, are we encouraged to Do It?
Because it is refreshing tonic for our Souls.
The Fight of Two Wolves
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life:
“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight, and it is between two wolves. One is evil — he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good — he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Repentance and Forgiveness
In a perfect world, there would be no mistakes, need for repentance, or the grace of forgiveness. As you might have noticed, “This ain’t a perfect world.”
And to add insult to injury, seldom does anyone ASK for forgiveness or even offer an apology, to prime the pump of our mind to do the same for them.
Repentance is reviewing one’s actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs, which is accompanied by commitment to and actual actions that show and prove a change for the better.Wikipedia
Speaking for myself, I know (for a fact) stupid words, sentences, and sometimes even whole paragraphs escape my lips. The intent is always pure; yet the delivery can be utterly malfeasant.
So, in front of the whole dang world, I’ll offer my apology to anyone and everyone who has (unintentionally) been harmed by my words or deeds.
Let go of the notion that there can be a different or better yesterday.
For those holding grudges against me, I encourage YOU to drop them. My life is rich and full, because of the Universal Principle: Law of the Harvest.
In other words, Karma is 100% accurate in delivering to each of us exactly what we have earned. So, no worries; if you feel I have “just desserts” headed my way, there is nothing more required of you. Please get on with and enjoy your Life.
For those willing to forgive me, I make this promise to YOU:
“I can do better!”