We have special days called Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving – each distinctive, all worthwhile. How about adding Forgiveness Day? Religions offer opportunities to forgive, but what if we create our own personal day focused on resolving the hurt and frustration that only forgiveness affords? Authentic forgiveness is difficult. It requires a hero – someone selfless enough to forgive – irrespective of who is right.
When we’re abused, offended, marginalized, or insulted, it’s natural to develop antagonistic feelings – often towards people or institutions we thought we could trust. Being assaulted by word or deed feels like a willful offense. Sometimes there’s no direct action we can take to resolve the issue. That’s a difficult idea to accept. Once we believe someone has harmed us, we can't seem to let it go. Here’s a simple example:
A family member believed she was overlooked when a promised gift of cash was lost in the mail. The gift giver was offended because he never received a thank you note. Years of not inviting one another to family functions reinforced the rift.
Each time we review what happened, the injury deepens. Distress is sticky. Revenge and fury consume our thoughts, our emotions, and even our bodies. Only forgiveness gives us the freedom to open our hearts.
"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." – LEWIS B SMEDES
It’s healing to forgive, whether it’s family, friend, colleague, stranger, bureaucracy, or even government. Forgiveness is an act of heroism. Heroes step bravely into situations with no expectation of acknowledgment or reward. Heroes perform noble acts of courage.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget the injury. It’s important to question what happened. Frustration and anger motivate us to explore protection for the future.
It’s not essential to let offenders know we’re forgiving them. We’re doing this for ourselves so we feel uplifted rather than burdened by the weight of the experience.
There’s no mandate to hug or to trust offenders. True heroism is simple and undramatic.
So imagine today is Forgiveness Day – a day devoted to forgiving others as well as ourselves. Imagine the freedom that comes with ending internal strife.
Imagine being a hero rather than a victim of circumstance.