for release February 23, 2001
by Melodie Davis
To Forgive is Divine
What is the toughest thing you've ever had to forgive? The hardest thing I ever had to forgive involved the time my dad discovered that someone had gotten into his desk and sharpened crayons or pencils leaving a mess everywhere. He was justifiably angry. Obviously one of us four children had done the deed.
"So come on kids, 'fess up." But no one would. We weren't usually defiant or unwilling to tell the truth. But on that particular deed, no one would confess to being the culprit. He gave us an extra chance, and said if no one would confess, he would have to punish us all.
The deadline came and went, and still no one would confess. Perhaps a friend had left the mess, unbeknownst to any of us. One of us said we would clean up the mess, even though we hadn't done it. Finally Dad had to punish us all, and he sent us upstairs to kneel down and say our prayers asking God to forgive us for telling a lie. That was hard: asking God for forgiveness for something you know you didn't do.
But the really hard part was forgiving my father for punishing me for
something I didn't do.
I don't blame my father for what was an unresolved issue in our family for many years. I can't remember if we ever found out what actually happened, but I do remember the feeling of being wronged.
Now, I realize I have been very fortunate, and if this is the worst story I can come up with, I really don't have anything to complain about.
Some folks have forgiven grave issues like infidelity, abuse, the murder of their child. During the past year I've been privileged to be part of a team of persons who produced some radio spots telling some of these incredible stories of forgiveness. Naomi forgave a doctor who accidentally removed both breasts during what was to have been a single mastectomy. Marietta chose to forgive the man who murdered her child after stealing her out of the family tent, and then called a year later taunting them. Basil forgave police officers for assuming he was the bad guy after someone else crashed into him going the wrong way on a freeway.
The spots are airing right now on radio stations all across the U.S. on a public service basis and I hope you have a chance to hear some of these stories on air. (If you can't catch any on the radio, you can check them and other stories out on our web site at <http://www.thirdway.com/rad/radfor-spots.shtml>).
Why forgive a gross wrong? The old saying is very true: to err is human, to forgive is divine. When we forgive, we are acting like God. I recognize that for someone who is not a religious person, he or she lacks that motivation. Yet there is an increasing body of research that looks at how forgiving others enables you to move on with your life. Persons who dwell on their bitterness and the wrong done to them get stuck on that injustice, and often experience health or family problems as a result.
The first thing all these people who have forgiven a gross wrong would tell you is that it is not a simple thing; nor should anyone else tell someone what they have to do. It's a personal thing you get to after a long process of dealing with anger, bitterness and unresolved injustice. They say it is not a matter of letting someone off the hook for what they have done.
Wrongdoers need to be held accountable; but for your own sanity, your own health, your own peace of mind, those who have chosen to forgive find that the process enables them to move on with their lives.
For a free booklet, "Finding a Way to Forgive," and a flier with more resources on forgiveness, write to: Melodie Davis, Another Way c/o Name\Address of YOUR newspaper; or e-mail: Melodie@mennomedia.org.
You can also visit Another Way on the Web at www.thirdway.com.
Melodie Davis is the author of seven books and has written her column since 1987. She taught feature writing and has won awards from a number of organizations including the National Federation of Press Women, Virginia Press Women and the American Advertising Association. She and her husband have three growing daughters.
NOTES TO EDITORS: text = 605 words; end material = 105 words
We would appreciate it if you would include the "Globe Syndicate" bug at the end of the column.
©2001 by Globe Syndicate, all rights reserved.
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