I have decided to put in e theme for today: that of Forgiveness. There is no real motivation for it at the moment, but I feel like it is a very important topic. A lot of people are either prone to hang onto grudges for slight offenses, or unable to forgive people for serious offenses (which is understandable, but harmful to the victim.) Let me explain.
A few years ago I got ripped off whilst seeking out a vehicle to buy. I basically lost $500. The details are not important, but involved some naiveté on my part. I was pretty angry. I even consulted with a lawyer friend on how to sue the person to get my money back. I was so angry for days that all I couldn't think about anything else. I decided I didn't like being angry. I decided to let it go. I forgave the person-not IN person, but in my heart I decided not to be angry with him anymore. Once I did that, the anger melted away. I didn't have my $500 dollars back, but the peace of mind was worth far more to me. The anger just slipped away. My lawyer friend even told me that $500 was not too bad of a rip-off, and I could use this experience as a relatively cheap life lesson.
Now, I'm not saying that forgiveness means letting go of justice. There are far worse things people suffer than losing $500. Some people have been raped or sexually abused. Some people have had family members abducted or even murdered. Facing up to these perpetrators must be painfully difficult. And 'letting it go' is not an option. The perpetrators of such horrendous acts must be caught, tried, and punished. I believe it is not only just but socially responsible to do all one can to capture and contain such criminal offenders. But I also believe the victim will not be able to move on until, somehow, they are able to forgive them.
Don't get me wrong. I don't believe such people necessarily deserve mercy or forgiveness. It isn't them I'm worried about. It's just that the victim and the victim's friends and families deserve peace. I don't think that peace can be found until the horror and anger over the crime can be let go. It's a tough thing, I'll admit, and as I haven't had such horrible things happen to my loved ones (well, I have to a degree, but not as much as some people), but I have observed how harboring grudges and anger ruins people's lives. Usually its about stupid things. So-and-so didn't invite me to their birthday party, or didn't say hello to me on the way to work that one time, or something small and trite like that. You want to hold on to minor grudges, go ahead. Make yourself miserable, because if you are so willing to sacrifice your relationship for petty grievances then maybe you just enjoy being miserable. But some people have been really hurt. Sometimes the pain or damage is irreparable and life-changing. So why forgive the person that took it all away?
You deserve to do it, that's why. Wipe that person like wiping the grime off the bottom of your shoe. Forgiveness doesn't need to mean understanding why they did it. It doesn't even need to mean empathy (though it sometimes will). Forgiveness means saying to yourself, 'I'm done with this person and I am moving on with my life. I am tired of the anger and fear and bitterness ruining every day. I want to feel at peace.'
It can be hard, but there is encouragement. There is a web site called 'The Forgiveness Project' that is full of real-life examples of people who have forgiven others who have done terrible things to them. Worse things than have likely ever happened to anyone reading this post (though I recognize there may be exceptions). Read some of these stories. They will explain how some of these people came to forgive those that hurt them, and explain how it improved their lives. I will provide a link to the site: