Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." Luke 23:34
It's New Year's and nearly half of us make resolutions. Of that half, only 8% stick.
Oh yuck. I can hear you groan. Why bother if such a minuscule number of resolutions stick?
But if 8% of the United States gave forgiveness as their resolution, can you imagine how many lives would be redeemed?
You tell me it's easy to forgive Uncle Fred for putting nuts in the turkey dressing this last Christmas even though you're deathly allergic to them and had to eat a cream cheese sandwich for dinner. Uncle Fred's a good guy.
But what about...
- the friend who stole your boyfriend?
- the drug dealer who tricked you into years of addiction?
- the sister who embezzled the family inheritance?
- the brother who raped you, the stranger who murdered your best friend, the__?
Yes. Forgive them.
Forgiveness doesn't say the deed was justified, that things are peachy. It NEVER insists you have an association with that person if the fault was egregious. Nor does forgiveness demand the person not pay for his or her crime.
What forgiveness does is set you free.
- You have lower stress.
- The person no longer stalks you in your mind, in your thoughts, in your psyche.
- It lessens not only psychological pain, but your physical pain, as well.
- It lowers your blood pressure.
- It extends your life
Forgiveness isn't always easy--put it is possible.
My latest novel, The Poison We Drink, explores the power of forgiveness. Unforgiveness, and its attendant bitterness, is a poison we drink hoping our enemy will die.
Buddha likens it to holding a coal hoping to burn the perpetrator.
Forgiveness is not about the other person. It's about setting you free. Imagine how much more beautiful the world would be if 8% of us forgave.
In the weeks to come, we'll explore how to forgive.