Posted by Ronan Scully in Features.

When was the last time you felt let down by someone? Did you feel like taking revenge on that person? You are a true saint if you haven’t at some time thought about responding angrily to someone that has harmed you in some way or said something about your way of living or way of life. But this is hate and it slowly kills you from the inside.

Forgiveness is a commitment

Nearly all of us at sometime have been hurt by the actions or words of another. Even in the recent referendum people from both sides said some nasty and terrible things about one another. These wounds can leave you with bitter feelings but if you don’t practice forgiveness, you may be the one who pays most dearly.

By embracing forgiveness, you embrace peace, hope, joy and equality. Forgiveness is a decision to let go of anger and resentment. The act that hurt you may always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you to focus on positive parts of your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you deny the other person’s responsibility for hurting you and it doesn’t minimise or justify the wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. Letting go of hurts makes way for compassion, kindness and peace and can lead to healthier relationships and less stress in your life. Forgiveness is a commitment to a process of change.

A way to begin is by recognising the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time. Then reflect on the facts of the situation, how you’ve reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. When you’re ready, actively choose to forgive the person who’s offended you. Move away from your role of victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. As you let go of hurts, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. You may even find compassion and understanding.

Building bridges

As usual a story might help to explain what I am trying to relay. ‘Once upon a time two brothers, who lived on adjoining farms, fell into conflict with one another. It was the first serious rift in 40 years of farming side by side, sharing machinery, and trading labour and goods. Then the long collaboration fell apart. It began with a small misunderstanding and it grew into a major difference, and finally it exploded into an exchange of bitter words followed by weeks of silence.

One morning there was a knock on the older brother’s door. He opened it to find a man with a carpenter’s toolbox. ‘I’m looking for a few days work’, the man said. ‘Perhaps you would have a few small jobs here and there. Could I help you? ‘Yes, said the older brother. ‘I do have a job for you. Look across the creek at that farm. That’s my neighbour. In fact, it’s my younger brother. Last week there was a a meadow between us and he took his bulldozer to the river and now there is a lake between us. Well, he may have done this to spite me, but I’ll go him one better. See that pile of lumber curing by the barn? I want you to build  me a fence, an eight foot fence, so I won’t need to see his place anymore. That will show him.

The carpenter said, ‘I think I understand the situation. Show me the nails and the digger and I’ll be able to do a job that pleases you.’ The older brother had to go to town for supplies, so he helped the carpenter get the materials ready and then he was off for the day. The carpenter worked hard all that day measuring, sawing, nailing. About sunset when the farmer returned, the carpenter had just finished the job.

The farmer’s eyes opened wide. His jaw dropped. There was no fence there at all. It was a bridge, a bridge stretching from one side of the lake to to the other. A fine piece of work, handrails and all, and the neighbour, his younger brother was coming across the bridge his arms outstretched. ‘You are quite a fellow to build this bridge after all I’ve said and done.’ The two brothers met at the middle of the bridge, hugging each other. They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox on his shoulder. ‘No, wait” Stay a few days more. I’ve lots of other projects for you,’ said the older brother. ‘I’d love to stay on,’ the carpenter said, ‘but I have so many more bridges to build.’

True forgiveness

Forgiveness is a crucial part of any meaningful relationship. We are all human and equal and as such, completely fallible. Despite our best efforts, we will do things that hurt someone else. We all need forgiveness from time to time. When someone you love hurts you deeply, the natural instinct is to lash out. However, achieving true forgiveness ultimately helps you and your relationship much more. It takes a stronger person to forgive than to attack.

Thought for the week

As your thought for the week say this prayer I heard recently about forgiveness, ‘Let the rain comes and wash away the ancient grudges, the bitter hatreds held and nurtured over generations. Let the rain wash away the memory of the hurt, the neglect. Then let the sun come out and fill the sky with rainbows. Let the warmth of the sun heal us wherever we are broken. Let it burn away the fog, so that we can see beyond labels, beyond accents, gender or skin colour. Let the warmth and brightness of the sun melt our selfishness. So that we can share the joys and feels the sorrows of our neighbours! And let the light of the sun be so strong that we will see all people as equal and as our neighbours. Let the earth, nourished by rain, bring forth flowers to surround us with beauty. And let the mountains teach our hearts to reach upward to heaven!’ Amen.