Today (Sunday, August 4, 2013) is International Forgiveness Day. While I’m all for shining a spotlight on such a worthy effort, don’t you think every day should be Forgiveness Day? The act of forgiveness is a cornerstone principle of Christianity and other great religions. It certainly was a direct command from Jesus Christ:
Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21-22
Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37
Among Jesus’s last words from the cross were “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Mahatma Gandhi said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Studies and anecdotal reports tell us that holding resentment does far more physiological and psychological harm to the person unable to forgive than to the person who has wronged him. Nelson Mandela is credited with saying, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”
But make no mistake. Forgiving someone who has wronged you is tough business, especially if the wrong seems irreparable or unrightable.
Always start with deep breathing. Here’s a link to an exercise involving visualization and meditation that may help you forgive someone who has wronged you. It may not seem to make a difference at first, but keep working on it.
You can find others by doing a search for “forgiveness exercise.”
Do you have a practice that helps you let go of resentment and judgment? Please share in the comments below.
Photo credit: Expression: To Err Is Human on Chalkboard via BigStockPhoto
Below are some highly regarded books about forgiveness. If you’ve read something on this topic you can recommend, please share in the comments section.