What is forgiveness? Have you ever experienced the beauty of it? My short reflection is an inspiration from the book “Why Forgive” by Johann Christoph Arnold. True heart opening combination of life stories of people who no longer wanted to carry the weight of the sadness and who no longer wanted to be victims of the situation…
by Anna Velychko
I recently read a story…
Two friends had an argument, where one slapped the other across the face. Although it was painful, the one who was slapped did not say anything but simply wrote on the sand, ‘today, my best friend slapped me in the face.’ The two friends eventually forgot about this particular incident and decided to go swimming in an oasis they found. Unfortunately, the friend who got slapped in the past nearly drowned, but was saved by his friend. As soon as he became conscious, wrote on a stone, ‘today my best friend saved my life.’ The one who saved the life of his friend asked him, ‘when I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, wrote on a stone. Why?’ His friend said, “when someone hurts us, we should write something on the sand so that the wind could erase it. But when someone does something useful to us, we must engrave it in stone so that wind can’t erase it.’ Sorrow and anger are essential to experiencing at times, as most believe overcoming these negative feelings build character and toughness. However, we need to avoid accumulating them in our hearts and memories, since they will end up creating unnecessary barriers that deter us from living and enjoying life to the fullest.
“Why Forgive” by Johann Christoph Arnold, opened up a whole new perspective into the world of victims and their painful memories, confusion, contemplations, inner strengths, and how the choices they made impacted their lives. There is a lot to digest from these heartbreaking stories, but I learned that we could find the strength to open up our hearts and perceive life through all its delightful or painful moments. Martin Luther King’s “Strength to Love,” tells us that “…returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness can’t drive out darkness – only light can do that. Hate can’t drive out hate – only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction…” One would notice that by focusing and prioritizing certain feelings or emotions, he or she will be subconsciously multiplying them. As one focuses on love, unity, abundance and everything it represents, the old paradigm of hatred, anger, fear, and suffering dissolves.
Forgiveness may be one of the most impactful expressions of love. True love is unconditional. True love doesn’t have to be validated, nor come with any logical explanation. Therefore, it is difficult to explain and justify how one could forgive his/her offender. People who want to rationalize everything will most likely spend unnecessary time deliberating on the same topic. Whereas the person who can forgive sets the heart free. I experienced the beauty of forgiveness in my life. I realized that the first person I have to forgive is myself. After I excused myself for being judgmental of people and myself, I found so much light and happiness within that now I want to share it with everyone around me. The person who chooses to forgive understands that resentment corrodes everything around and within us. This is why Confucius said, “Who opts for revenge should dig two graves.” Forgiveness is an indication of strength. It is easy to get angry with someone who has hurt us in the past, but what makes it so difficult to let go of this anger?
Feelings similar to anger accumulate in our hearts and thinking about it every day, ignites it in ourselves more and more. Consequently, aggression, violence, and hatred will not allow us to focus on essential matters. Negative thoughts will slowly begin their deterioration process by making this person nervous, irritable, avoid positivity, and could even make one sick. Research studies have indicated the deep connection between the mind and body, where people may also develop cirrhosis or cancer due to strong internal resentments. Is it worth it? Regardless of the emotional pain, one feels, focusing on positivity and love is crucial. After all, a person who doesn’t know how to forgive will self-destruct. This level of awareness doesn’t readily come to most, as it demands humility. But isn’t humility the essence of forgiveness? When a person chooses to forgive, he/she will feel the love of one’s family and friends and be able to express love again. Being able to forgive, one can realize the sufficient internal capacity for the bright and cheerful thoughts for the future.
Forgiveness is the key to a healthy relationship. For all of us, it’s another way to recognize our mistakes and grow. Sometimes it takes years to forgive, but it is the process that helps our minds escape from hate. Forgiveness is divine, and our minds and hearts should always be the reservoirs of indulgence and forgive errors within.