Forgiveness, the Necessary Ingredient in all Relationships
I remember hearing, not to long ago, that successful marriages are not made up of perfect people, but rather, they consist of two, who know how and are willing to forgive each other, all the time. In an imperfect world, we need forgiveness and we need to be forgiving if we are to have relationships at all. Holding on to resentment builds walls; walls often higher and thicker than the Great Wall of China. Walls might protect our fragile egos from getting injured, but they also keep out the love and peace, that could be ours if we simply forgive and start fresh. Psychological walls also isolate us and this creates loneliness, forgiveness creates bridges and this gives relationships a chance to continue and to even become stronger than before, with a new understanding of the needs of each person.
I was watching a morning talk show today where they mentioned that today was Global Forgiveness Day, I agree that we need a day to reflect and simply reach out to those out there with whom we have held grudges with for years, such as our exes, parents, other family members and even friends that have hurt us badly. Shouldn’t everyday be used as a day to build bridges and forever banish those walls created by resentment?
In order to forgive we need to really know how to love, by this I mean true love, the kind that is unselfish and kind. It says in 1st Corinthians 13 verse 5 when describing true love; “5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” It says in the last part of the verse “it keeps not record of wrongs” another way to put this is “Love does not hold grudges” Imagine a world that thought this way, where resentment was none existence and mercy was commonplace. Let’s face it, we all need this. We all fail, and we all need forgiveness, therefore it is essential that we also forgive.
Forgiveness starts with humbleness and the knowledge that we are not perfect. Not only relationships, but Christianity is based on forgiveness, salvation could not exist without forgiveness.
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A beautiful book that I read recently that really brings this message home for me is “Breaking Night” by Liz Murray. In “Breaking Night” Liz describes her difficult childhood that was the product of her parents being heavily addicted to drugs. As a result of these addictions, Liz and her sister often went hungry and had many of their basic needs go unmet, imagine a young girl not being able to go to school because she could never get a good night’s sleep due to her parent’s drug habit, and due to this neglect, her hygiene habits were affected to the degree that she even had a bad case of head lice. Most of us would have been tempted to run away and abandon our parents if we grew up in this type of environment. Despite all the problems she faced, you don’t see Liz abandoning her parents, but instead she has a heart that forgives and this brings about healing.
In her book she describes how she took care of her father during his last days, when she finally got an apartment of her own in New York City, which she supported while studying her career. Even though her father had managed to overcome his drug addiction, he had been diagnosed as being HIV positive, as well as having other health issues, such as heart sickness and hepatitis C, not to mention having worn out most of his liver.
When Liz first heard from her father from the shelter he was living in, while she was homeless and going to high school, on money she had earned in a summer job, Liz rushed over to help her father, and took full responsibility of his health care needs and gave him a home in her apartment. She managed all his medicines and made sure that he made all his appointments for all the blood work he needed. Her love even inspired others to help her with the care of her father. She was there for him till the day he died. In her book, she speaks of her father with loving and kind words that truly honor his memory.
Liz’s mother died, when she was sixteen. Even though she was very young, she took care of her mother when she was a teenager, even if this meant cleaning vomit and bathing her mother’s frail body due to AIDS, she was there the day her mother was buried, and she always honored her mother’s memory. Liz chose forgiveness over resentment and as a result of this she not only was able to forgive and love her own parents unconditionally, but she was able to teach others how to overcome their own obstacles through the healing power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness the necessary ingredient in all relationships and a major component of love, it is the glue that holds families together, that makes friendships last a lifetime, it is what creates harmony and does away with many conflicts. Next time you have been hurt, by someone, let yourself heal, and after that consider forgiving them, that way your own healing can be complete. Max Lucado said the following on forgiveness ““Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free and realizing you were the prisoner!” Set yourself free, forgive!