I recently heard the story of a family whose father was murdered in cold blood. On the date of the sentencing, the victim’s family bore witness as the guilty man’s incarceration record was read aloud in the courtroom. It contained offense after offense of violence. Suddenly, it was time for the son of the deceased to address his father’s murderer. Everyone waited for the young man to speak; to speak of hatred, of disgust, of pain, anger and injustice. Although, to the contrary, he spoke of nothing but forgiveness, hopeful prosperity, compassion and kindness for the accused.
I thought; if this young man, at age nineteen, could reach outside his unfathomable pain and loss to forgive his father’s murderer in nine short months; than we certainly, as neighbors, as family members, as coworkers, peers and otherwise have the power to forgive the lesser wrongdoings of our enemies.
It is said that anyone can judge, but it takes a person with true character to forgive. To forgive, we must first tap into the place where our pain lives, and then allow ourselves to let go of the burden of that pain. Forgiveness isn’t about excusing another’s actions; it’s about releasing those actions so they don’t destroy our hearts.
According to studies, doctors have found that there is a huge relationship between a person’s unwillingness to forgiveness and their health. Being hurt, envious, angry, feeling guilty or suffering loss can profoundly alter your brain waves, create chemical imbalances, distress your muscular-skeletal system, affect your digestion or even make it difficult to sleep.
How is it possible to forgive someone who has wronged you? The process is different for everyone, so here are some questions to think about as you start your own journey of forgiveness:
- How is the story of this wrongdoing serving me or my enemy?
- How can I practice compassion towards my enemy?
- Have I too, at one time, treated someone else unfairly?
- Is my enemy capable of doing good?
- Is my ego getting in the way of my willingness to forgive?
- Is it possible that my enemy did not know the implications of their wrongdoing?
- How could my life or the lives of my loved ones improve by forgiving this person?
Remember, forgiveness takes time, but can also reap huge rewards. As philosopher Paul Boese says, “Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
Lighten Your Load!
Health and Lifestyle Coach Autumn
(sign up for a no-cost consultation with me to see how you can better your life at http://www.pacificnorthwesthealth.com)