heatherfromthegrove’s New Year’s Revelation No 6 of 7: The power of Forgiveness

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“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.”

Louis B. Smedes

One would think that three of the most difficult (and uncomfortable) words to utter would be: “I am sorry.”

Not so. It’s the responding declaration of “I forgive you” (and meaning it) that poses the real herculean challenge.

When English poet Alexander Pope wrote “To err is human, to forgive, Divine,” he was echoing what many of our religious faiths teach us.  As a Roman Catholic, I’ve recited the Our Father a million times, solemnly whispering: “God forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Easier said than done…. which is probably why we’re required to repeat the prayer at every Mass before Communion and also after Confession… lest we forget our promise.

Sometimes it’s harder to forgive yourself than to forgive another person.

Sometimes it’s hard and even impossible to forgive. Period.

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is will occupy a rent-free space in your mind.”

Isabelle Holland

Over the span of my lifetime to the present day, I can truthfully say that I have forgiven almost every person who has “trespassed against me.” Almost.

If a person – be it family or friend – says or does something hurtful towards me and they do it out of fear, misinformation, ignorance or haste (we’ve all said things that we’ve wished, in the next instant, that we could take back)…. then I forgive them. Depending on the severity of the hurt, I may not forget.  But I forgive. And the lightness of being that comes with forgiveness is wonderful and freeing.

However, there are a very select few people for whom forgiveness is simply not in the cards… as hard though I try.

If a person – be it family or friend – commits a hateful act with the malicious intent to harm me and/or those I hold dear…. then I cannot forgive them.  And that darkness is always lurking in the shadows.

Maybe someday. One can only hope.

Not for their sake, but for mine.

Some Book Recommendations:

Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hopeby Robert D. Enright

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The Wisdom of Forgiveness by the Dalai Lama and Victor Chan

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For Children: The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson

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Photo via pdpics.com

heatherfromthegrove’s poetry spotlight for today: “Forgiveness” by John Greenleaf Whittier

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As we wrap up poetry week @ heatherfromthegrove, enjoy this last one.

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Forgiveness

by John Greenleaf Whittier

poemForgiveness

John Greenleaf Whittier born on December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts – dubbed as one of the “Fireside Poets“, this American Quaker was an ardent and vocal advocate for the abolition of slavery.  His first poem was published in 1826, in a publication called the Newburyport Free Press.  The paper’s editor was abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and it was Garrison who encouraged Whittier to take up the abolitionist cause – which he did on a local, state and national level.  He was involved with the formation of the Republican party and was keenly engaged in politics.  Whittier edited papers in Boston and Hartford (Connecticut) and – from 1857 until his death on September 7, 1892 – he was associated with the magazine, Atlantic Monthly.

Forgiveness although famous for his lengthy poems, the most popular being Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyll, this poem is one of his shortest and is often quoted because of its quiet but clear message of “forgive those who trespass against us.”  Only when we forgive, can we truly heal.  Forgiveness is freeing. And, to quote a line from the Prayer of  St. Francis, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  

Poem via poemhunter.com.

Image via pimminag.com.