“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” ~ Thomas Fuller …
I have to wonder how many bridges I have burned over the years by treating others in an unforgiving manner–times in which I let my pride, ego, or stubbornness interfere with the very important process of forgiving another person for something that they had done. It all-too-often happens to each of us as we continue to hold on to a grudge–as we continue to drag along the excess baggage of anger and resentment.
For many of us, forgiveness proves to be one of the toughest things for us to exercise. It involves both internal (emotional) and external (behavioral) elements, and as such, requires us to confirm the forgiveness outwards as well as inwards. I cannot simply tell someone I forgive them, yet hold on to the anger inside. What Thomas says here, though, makes me stop and think every time I read it–for if I am going to keep doing things for which I need to be forgiven by others, who am I not to forgive others when I perceive that something wrong has been done?
The question then becomes, “How do I break free of this tendency?” Unfortunately, I am not sure that there is always an answer for this… or at least one that applies to everyone or to all situations. I do know, however, that it is important that I am aware of the fact that I do have this tendency. Other people may do things that harm me, but if I hold on to the anger or resentment for those things, then I am being unfair to those who seek my forgiveness, as well as hurting myself–carrying excess baggage. What they have done is over. I do not have to be best friends with them or spend time with them–in fact, I do not even have to talk to them ever again–but I do need to forgive them if I am to find my own peace of mind.
Forgiveness is kind of like a bank account. When we forgive others we add to the balance in our account that we can rely on at a later date–perhaps when we need to be forgiven by others. But if we do not forgive others, we are leaving our accounts empty, and when we need to call upon forgiveness, there but a bridge that has been burned–the remnants of a necessity that is now useless. Pay it forward… forgive and forget.
Forgive someone who has hurt or wronged you today–think of it as a deposit in your bank.
Questions to consider:
Why is it sometimes difficult to forgive others? What happens in our own lives when we do not do so?
What strategies might you use to be able to truly forgive someone whom you are having a difficult time forgiving?
Why is it important to you to forgive others when they have wronged you?
For further thought:
“Dost thou wish to receive mercy? Show mercy to thy neighbor.” ~ St. John Chrysostom