In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Jack Freed used this quote –
“Not the power to remember, but the very opposite, the power to forget, is a necessary condition for our existence.” (Sholem Asch)
That may well be good advice; however, it is the power to forgive that is a necessary condition for true peace. Forgiving others is a key point in the prayer that Jesus left with his disciples – The Lord’s Prayer.
I have posted here a few times about how amazing the nightly news stories are about people who have been the victims of injustice or sometimes even savage violence saying that they have forgiven the perpetrators. They didn’t forget, but they are able to move on with life because they were able to forgive. Not surprisingly, many of those stories involve church members who suffered some atrocity or wrong while at church.
The first step to forgiving is to put whatever it is into the perspective of time. In most cases, one can say, “It happened, but it is over.” So, put it behind you in time and then focus upon dealing with your feeling of the need for retribution. We often her people say that they are seeking justice; when, in fact, they are seeking payback. They seem to think that they will find peace in the fact that someone goes to jail or in the payment of some amount of money. Neither really brings the closure or peace that forgiving brings to the situation.
All of us have the ability to forgive, even if we can’t forget. Not being able to forgive most often means that we hold on to not just the pain of the event, but the feeling of the need for retribution. We keep a score to settle in our minds. That sense of need for payback keeps open the wound of the original incident, rather than allowing the wound to heal. We see life as a zero-sum game in which we need to inflict some sort of pain back in order to cancel out (zero out) our own pain.
Perhaps a better way to keep score is to see our ability to forgive as the means to zero-out things. We need to be able to forgive ourselves as well as others in order to avoid living in a negative state of mind. The Lord’s Prayer tells us to ask for forgiveness for our trespasses (sins) as we forgive the trespasses (sins) of others towards us. If we can do that to zero out the bad things that we do to ourselves or the things that others do to us, then we are left with only the good things in life to remember. That is a much happier place to reside than the dark pit of despair and vengefulness into which not being able to forgive leads.
As you start out today, think about the trespasses of others against you that you may be holding onto and focus not upon retribution but on forgiveness. Maybe saying the Lord’s Prayer will put you in the right frame of mind. At least you will have the comfort of knowing that you have asked for forgiveness of your own transgressions, and that is a great start to any day.
Don’t forget to forgive.