The Power of Forgiveness
Saying “I forgive you” isn’t simply an act of kindness, but it is a “no” to vengeance and a “yes” to peace. When someone does something wrong to us, it’s easy to think negative, angry thoughts of hate, revenge and retaliation, but doing so really leads to nothing less than endless regret and burden.
Is forgiving the best way to deal with the pain we feel when a person stings us deeply and unfairly?
Well, what is the alternative to forgiving?
Must we freeze ourselves in the unfairness of the cruel moment in the past?
Or should we find a better way?
When we are emotionally hurt, it leads to anguish, resentment and a deep desire for retribution. This process continues unabated and over time becomes a stockpile of hate. All violence, racial discord and inter-personal strife are just manifestations of this hurt and suffering perceived as ‘victimization’. We have the choice of continuously resenting the one who hurt us or forgiving the person.
Sometimes, we decide to refuse to make peace with the past and as a result, we also refuse to forgive… just because that feels like the easiest option. On other occasions, we fall into the habit of seeking revenge, mistakenly believing it to be the better option.
Vengeance is the passion to get even using bad intentions. It is a burning desire to reciprocate the pain someone gave us — an eye for an eye…
“An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Try as we may, revenge will never get us where we want to — it will never even the score. It won’t give us fairness. Instead, it sets off a chain reaction that ties both the injured and the one who injures to an escalator of pain for as long as the will to get even remains between the two.
The escalator never stops and never lets anyone off…
No matter what our weapons may be — harsh, stinging, abusive words, cruelty, dagger, guns, bombs, missiles — revenge locks us into an escalation of violence. It mires people in painful guilt for an unjust past.
The only way out is forgiveness.
Forgiveness has the power to move us away from a past moment of pain and unshackle us from our endless chain of reactions. It creates a new situation in which both the wrong doer and the wronged can begin a new way.
Forgiveness lightens the load of past wrongs and pains that we are burdened with. It frees us so that we can move on with life for whatever lies in our future.
The only way to heal the pain is to forgive the person who hurt us. This stops the re-runs of pain and heals our memory as we change our vision.
Even though inner lust for revenge remains, we must not give in to it. This can push us deeper into endless repetition of the old unfairness.
Holding on to the thought of revenge is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; we will be the ones getting burned.
Vengeance destroys our peace, focus, patience and wisdom. We create bad karma and get entrapped in its endless cycle, when we always entertain thoughts of vengeance.
Life is too short to be spent in fault-finding, holding grudges or keeping memory of wrong done to us. Forgive even before forgiveness is asked. Forgive and forget.
“When you release the wrongdoer from the wrong, you cut a malignant tumor out of your inner life. You set a prisoner free, but you discover that the real prisoner was yourself.” — Lewis B. Smedes