Forgiveness has two dimensions to it – forgiving others and seeking forgiveness from others. Trust me, both are equally tough!
Seeking forgiveness requires self-realisation, acceptance and humility to approach the aggrieved party.
Forgiving others requires nothing but a heart of selfless love and the experience of having been forgiven.
It was October 2010. There occurred an episode in which I felt deeply hurt by the actions of a friend. The incident went on lingering in my mind for days together. I was constantly asking myself, “What wrong did I do to deserve this?” Even though I knew that the behavior of the friend was unjustified and uncalled for and I was in no way to blame for it, I went on introspecting, feeling bad about the whole thing and even praying for my friend. But intermittent thoughts about the whole episode did not cease. So much so, that my daily schedule got affected without my knowledge. Even though I was not consciously thinking about it, there was some sort of continuing uneasiness within.
In the month of December, almost every Scripture portion that I meditated upon had a message of forgiveness. By that time, I was almost my usual self and not much bothered by what had happened two months back. So, the constant reminders about forgiveness made me think whom I should seek forgiveness from. In all that I could think of, I couldn’t recall hurting any person that I could seek forgiveness from. The last straw came when few days before Christmas I received a greeting card from my sister having a Bible verse on forgiveness printed on it. I was taken aback! A Christmas greeting card having a message of forgiveness!! At least I had never come across such a card before. Christmas cards usually have nativity verses printed on them.
That was it! With the card in my hand as I actively pondered whom I should seek forgiveness from, it hit me like a thunderbolt that I did not have to seek forgiveness from anyone. Rather, I had to forgive someone – forgive the friend whose actions had hurt me a couple of months before. Gosh! The realization was so profound. My immediate response was that no way was I going to take the first step. After all, the friend had not even apologized! Now if I take any step, it would mean that I myself was wrong in the first place. Thus continued a few days of struggle within.
Then on the day of Christmas I thought to bring to an end to the ongoing tussle by taking the first step to greet that friend. I picked up the phone, but still couldn’t get myself to dial the number. I then whispered a quick word of prayer asking God to give me strength and mustered the courage to dial the number. The pleasant conversation lasted three minutes. How light I felt as I disconnected the phone! I hadn’t realized till then that I was carrying the burden of an unforgiving spirit for two months. It was God’s practical lesson on forgiveness to me!
I had always thought that I could easily forgive others. But that Christmas day, I had a peek into myself as to how wrong I was. It is really tough to forgive those who hurt you – especially when you know for sure that you have done nothing wrong to deserve it. My heart fills with gratitude each time I recall God’s practical lesson on forgiveness.
While I was a sinner, I was forgiven by my Saviour and so I have the added onus to forgive those who aggrieve me.