The word ‘forgiveness’ resounds in the media today. The almost immediate expressions of forgiveness, offered to the perpetrator by families affected by the shooting at a church in Charleston, SC, shows hope of reconciliation. Aboriginals, here in Canada, are shedding tears of healing and forgiveness at meetings, which present the Truth and Reconciliation report from […]
Forgiveness, a divine grace
The word ‘forgiveness’ resounds in the media today.
The almost immediate expressions of forgiveness, offered to the perpetrator by families affected by the shooting at a church in Charleston, SC, shows hope of reconciliation.
Aboriginals, here in Canada, are shedding tears of healing and forgiveness at meetings, which present the Truth and Reconciliation report from the inquiry into Residential School abuse.
And, research about the health-giving power of forgiveness is on the upswing.
Both recent and past wrongs committed on individuals, communities and nations need forgiving. It isn’t easy. Many people find it a real challenge to forgive and let go, even knowing the value it will bring to their health.
Yet, from the inspiration of Mandela and Malala to the courage of Jesus, we have both modern and ancient examples of forgiveness for terrible acts against humanity.
Nelson Mandela built a nation on his insights into man’s higher nature. After 27 years of enduring terrible conditions of incarceration, as he walked out of prison, the words on his lips were ones of forgiveness and reconciliation. “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom,” he said, “I knew that if didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.”
Malala showed the world her ability to forgive and express compassion following the brutal attack on her life, and is now better known as a campaigner for the rights of children’s education than a victim of violence.
Jesus gave us the two Great Commandments; the second asks that we love our fellow man no matter what he has done to us. He proved this to be effective when he forgave those who crucified him, which allowed him to triumph ultimately over his own death..
How does one replace the part of one’s identity that says ‘this happened to me’, with a purity that washes away such a
Forgiveness begins within
history? Like Mandela, we do not want anger to hold us hostage and define our lives by how we have been hurt.
These three real-life examples of personal triumph show that forgiveness begins within; so ultimately forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. This gift frees us to live our lives without resentment, bitterness, or anguish; and, that freedom is key to our wholeness – both physical and mental.
Many spiritual thinkers through the ages knew this without evidence from biological studies.
Twentieth century author and theologian, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: ‘One’s first lesson is to learn one’s self; having done this, one will naturally, through grace from God, forgive his brother and love his enemies.’ (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 129)
For some, finding this divine grace may be a new spiritual journey. But in ‘learning one’s self’ we will find that we are all expressions of one divine, good Creator.
Over the years, I have learned that a loving God cares for all His creation. Individually, we all express the qualities of His nature that include wholeness, innocence, compassion, love, and forgiveness. And, God’s nature never changes – no matter what human event occurs.
This article appears in various Metroland news editions throughout Ontario, such as the Brampton Guardian, read here.