It’s not easy to forgive…
Posted January 23, 2013on:
Forgiveness is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. It’s very hard not to bear a grudge about all sorts of things in life. Forgiving someone for a perceived dose of serious wrongdoing is even harder. There are people in my life who I’m trying hard to forgive for all sorts of reasons, but somehow it’s just very hard to let go. I’d imagine it’s pretty hard for many other people as well so I’m not alone in struggling with this problem. If you’re a Christian, you have an example of how it should be done of course. Christ’s suffering and ultimate forgiveness toward a cruel world and the people were to ultimately kill him is probably what we’d consider the ‘gold standard’ of forgiveness, and it’s probably on of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith, whatever denomination you look at.
Of course life’s not as simple and clear cut as this. It’s not easy or even conceivable for us to be able to instantly forgive everything bad that happens to us in life together with the wrongdoers. I think if we aspire this ‘gold standard’ then it’s possible to look at forgiveness as a journey, with a destination to be arrived at with a lot of hard work and reflection along the way. One of our priests, father Chuks preached a sermon quite a while ago in which he reflected upon just how hard it is to forgive. You can listen to his take on this here . It’s a challenging though-provoking address which asks us sometimes uncomfortable questions about ourselves and our own personal capacity to forgive.
I’ve just returned from a trip to South Africa. R’s only UK- based relative died last year and we had to return Deirdre’s remains to the rest of her family in the Western Cape. R was very, very close to her aunt and it was heartbreaking to watch Deirdre being robbed of her mind by early onset dementia. But I suppose death freed her soul to fly free again released from a crippled defective body. Of course at times like this, family disagreements come to the surface and old conflicts rear their heads. Time for calm reflection and though about forgiveness might go a long way towards healing the rifts in this particular family. We are also involved in complex court proceedings in South Africa at the moment and such things usually happen because one or both parties feel unable to forget old battles and fights. If everybody in the world tried just that little bit harder to forgive, how much better might the world become?
South Africa has had its own struggle with forgiveness. The legacy of the apartheid regime has left deep scars on the country. The Truth and Reconcillation process headed up by Archbishop Desmond Tutu was set up to try and apply an agenda of forgiveness across the nation. I think it worked pretty well too. Aspiring to the gold standard set by Christ, the commission worked tirelessly to try to heal a nation still raw and wounded by a system of oppression based solely on the colour of someone’s skin. South Africa has survived the first few years of a new democracy and is doing pretty well nearly twenty years down the line after the first free elections.
So maybe we should stop counting the perceived wrongs we suffer at the hands of others and focus on what’s actually good in our lives. After all,the behaviour of others is ultimately their own responsibility. Most of the time, there’s nothing we can do to change the behaviour and actions of others. Our responsibility has to be to learn, understand and respect the views, opinions and traditions of those around us and to rise above perceived slights and offences as well as those deliberately inflicted. It’s all too easy to pass judgement on others. We should be mindful and careful of the judgements made by others about us as a consequence…
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