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.
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.