April 5, 2016

How Forgiveness Benefits US, part 2

Let’s get something straight: nobody’s perfect. Okay, so that’s a cliché. However, such sayings often spring from deep life truths. Human beings disappoint and hurt each other, even those we love the most; that’s life.

Those who have been through the most traumas often pass it down to others. Sometimes, this is done on purpose. Other times, people don’t realize they’re doing it. They merely don’t know how to pass on anything but pain.

I have known tremendous sorrow in my life. Some of it has related to health challenges over which I have no control. On the other hand, certain trusted “friends” or loved ones have abused and bullied me.

I now realize that some of my offenders were obviously aware of the likely results of their harmful words and actions--while others weren’t. I can either choose to forgive both kinds of people, or let the offense continue to darken my heart. 

Please see more on this subject in my book, Accept No Trash Talk: Overcoming the Odds.

My last article was about how forgiveness helps us more than the offender. I would like to explore that topic further by discussing the benefits of letting go of even the deepest offenses imaginable.

Corrie Ten Boom

She was a Christian who lived in Haarlem, near Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during World War II. Her family hid many Jewish people and Resistance members. The Ten Boom house was an official part of the Dutch Underground.

In the end, a Dutch informant turned them in to the Nazis. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, were sent to Ravensbrück, a women’s labor camp in Germany. Betsie died in the camp. However, Corrie was released as the result of a clerical error.

One would expect a person in Ms. Ten Boom’s position to harbor a mountain of bitterness, which could lead to a corresponding Mt. Everest of disease. This remarkable woman chose the higher road. Please read this inspiring article about how she forgave one of the people most responsible for her pain.

Corrie Ten Boom turned her mess into her message. She wrote a powerful autobiography called The Hiding Place, which was also made into a movie. She also opened a home for other camp survivors and became a missionary. This remarkable woman did not allow her mistreatment during the war to define her; she moved forward.

My Conclusion

The bottom line is that we don’t forgive only when people deserve it, or because they deserve it. We let bitterness go for two reasons:

  • It’s allows us to move into a brighter future.

  • It’s the right thing to do.

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”—Ephesians 4:32 (KJV)

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Have you moved beyond the self-defeating bitterness?

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