Prepare for the Future
Where should you start when you begin to make plans for the future? You must make friends with your past. The reality is, you can either let your past teach you or you can let it beat you -- and yes, the choice really is yours.
To make friends with your past, of course, you need to deal with any unfortunate relationships, squabbles, fights and disagreements you've had in the past, particularly if they were abusive ones. It's necessary to become friends with your past in order to concentrate on your present, so you can make your future what you're capable of making it. The key to making friends with your past is forgiveness. I opened my trusty 1828 Noah Webster Dictionary and read that to forgive is "to pardon; to overlook an offense and treat the offender as not guilty."
Some people say we should "forgive and forget." Henry Ward Beecher's comment says it exceptionally well: "'I can forgive but I cannot forget' is only another way of saying 'I will not forgive.' Forgiveness ought to be like a canceled note, torn in two and burned up so that it never can be shown against one." Additionally, our memory bank still carries the wrong, but what we do forget is any idea or plan to "get even" with the culprit who did something that requires forgiveness. The first thing many people will say is, "What he/she did to me does not deserve forgiveness." Let me encourage you not to "play God" on this. Let God be the judge.
During a question and answer session at a breakfast with a large group, a young man told me that when he heard what I had to say about forgiveness, he was so bitter that he rejected it out of hand. His father did not deserve to be forgiven. A few months later, the young man told me it was a very difficult thing to do, but he did confront his father about the abuse, and his father denied the behavior. This often happens. Over a period of time, the abuser builds a case in his or her own mind and lives in denial.
The young man told his father, "You know what you did, but that's not what I'm here to discuss. I just want you to know that I forgive you and that I love you." The young man said his father was momentarily stunned. Then he grabbed him and hugged him, and both father and son wept profusely. The young man went on to tell me that the relationship is still not all it could be, but that they are making serious progress, getting closer with each visit. He told me, "The thing I appreciate most is that I am so relieved, and my father is still a relatively young man. I'm delighted that he can now have and enjoy a relationship with his grandchildren."
Ralph Emerson, describing one who did not forgive, said, "His heart was as great as the world, but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong." And George Herbert commented, "He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass if he would ever reach Heaven, for everyone has need to be forgiven." Neuropsychologist Philip McGraw, aka Dr. Phil, says that if we make fairness the basis of forgiveness, we are going to be at war with others for the rest of our lives.
Dr. Charles Swindoll put it this way: "Forgiveness is not an elective in the curriculum of life. It is a required course, and exams are always tough to pass." By the same token, when we have wronged someone else, we must seek his or her forgiveness.
Message for Daily Living for Monday August 3, 2009Monday,
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