Justice and mercy meet within forgiveness. This is because in forgiving someone, you are paying for the debt that they owe you, balancing the proverbial scales of injustice. This is what makes forgiveness difficult.

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WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE – A SLOTHFUL SINNER OR A DILIGENT WINNER?

sloth

No matter how cute a Sloth may look, being one is not good. In fact, the Bible describes it as one of the deadly sins. What’s wrong in being a sloth, you may ask. To that, I will say, there is no right or wrong, just the consequences. If you choose to be a sloth, you will shape your life likewise.

Sloths are arboreal mammals noted for slowness of movement and for spending most of their lives hanging upside down in the trees of the tropical rainforests of South America and Central America. They personify the laziness. Thus, a person who is lazy and reluctant to work is called as a sloth. There is an age-old idiom “As you sow, so shall you reap.” How true is that! If you act lazy, do not put in efforts, wash your hands off the responsibilities then your life is going to be dull, non-progressive and boring. Success will be miles away from you.

On the other hand, if you are diligent you can go places. Observe any successful personality. The virtue that will stand out is diligence. Again, I would like to remind you of an old age idiom “Winners don’t do different things, they do things differently.” The hard work and perseverance of these people are what differentiates them from sloths. Their willingness to consistently pursue the hard-work and effort is what makes them a winner.

Having said this, let’s talk about the practical aspect of practicing this. I will be lying if I say I am totally diligent. I am not! And I can guarantee that even you are not! We all tend to be sloths, don’t we? Let me share my personal experience. I am a new mother and a full time working professional. I survive on a 4 hours sleep a day through the week, I travel 40 km every day and I pour in endless enthusiasm to entertain my son after coming back from work only because I want to make up to the time lost working in the office. Apart from this, I cook, I clean, I do social gatherings. We all do that, don’t we? And you will agree that the only thing that gets us through is diligence. We are able to do it only because with do it with a lot of vigor, we put in immeasurable efforts, we pay attention to every minute detail and we have tremendous ability to adapt to the changing demands. And this pays us big time, doesn’t it? The big fat pay cheque at the end of the month, being a hero in the eyes of our children, and being a very stable and strong support to the family is what we get in return. Just imagine how life would be without these tokens of love, trust and (materialistic as well as non-materialistic). appreciation. However, in my case, all this holds true from Monday to Friday. Come Saturday, I will usually be a total Sloth. I wake up late. I some times don’t cook, I laze around the house, I procrastinate many household chores. Yes, I do that. And it is natural, isn’t it? After all, I am a human, I get tired, my body needs rest. An this will be true with more or less everyone.

So you see, the same individual is a sloth as well as diligent. The challenge is to where to draw the line. It is very easy to get used to a lazy lifestyle, but it is very challenging to step out of the comfort zone and discipline yourself. Being sloth is alright, but only to the extent of being one just to rest and rejuvenate. We all need that change, but mind you it must be a temporary change and not the lifestyle change. We must bounce back.

I echo Benjamin Franklin’s words: “Diligence overcomes difficulties, sloths make them.”

So, what do you want to be, A slothful sinner or a diligent winner? The choice is yours!

IS IT EASY TO REFRAIN FROM WRATH AND FORGIVE?

The expression “Virtue + Vice” is deeply pertinent in human life and the Bible profoundly affirms this truth – “No human is perfect, not even one. Each of us in some way or other is fallen by nature and by works as well”. Our contrary characters have always been the factor of the disintegration of our emotions which causes wrath and emotional vacuum in our relationships. At such peak of emotional brokenness, often it is suggested by godly counsellors to ‘FORGIVE ONE ANOTHER’. Is it that easy to forgive someone?

I know Mom and Dad don’t like her now but I’m pretty sure her love and care for them can convince them in the future. What can be more valuable than having a companion like her? In her, I see my future, she is the perfect lady with whom I can fulfill all my dreams, it is with her I can face any struggle. It’s not just a day’s happening; we are in a relationship since so many years. But… how come it is so easy for her to turn me down, were those promises I believed in,  fake? Till yesterday evening she was there for me but what happened this morning? Is a relationship just confined to physical satisfaction, financial stability and fame?

Is it easy to refrain from wrath and forgive?

With endless promises, sacrifices and in the presence of witnesses in the holy sanctuary we tied the nuptial knot but how come only within a couple of years life has become hell? What happened to those promises and commitments? Is it the same guy in whom I built my trust and dreamt to fulfill my dreams? God has forgotten me, how can I tell Papa about the home violence, the marital rape, my character assassination, the cuts and cigar burns on my body, so on and so forth?

Is it easy to refrain from wrath and forgive?

He is the most sincere, truthful and hardworking guy I have ever met in my life. I think, he is the right guy to be given the power of attorney in my absence. Alas… after a month when he returns from the foreign trip, his company is sold and he is under bankruptcy!

Is it easy to refrain from wrath and forgive?

My dream is to make him what I could not accomplish in life. What more I want rather than his happy life. I trust he will hold my shivering hand; she will be my daughter, not daughter-in-law. Oh, how joyous it will be to be called as Grandpa and to hold those tiny little fingers and walk in the dusk light. Well, some dreams won’t be fulfilled, this old age home probably being the last roof!

Is it easy to refrain from wrath and forgive?

Well, the world is not only filled with evil hearts, internal scheming, and abhorrence. The world exists because of the God-fearing hearts, love for one another and forgiveness against wrath. Moreover, by the grace of God.

Thomas a Kempis says,

“Know all and you will pardon all”.

After 10yrs of married life and becoming the father of a girl, the husband always felt insecure and jealous of his wife’s beauty and influence. In his mind, he always thought people give him importance because of his wife’s credibility. As days went by his insecurity and jealousy became giant and finally erupted to crime one evening. Though it was just a fight for extra sugar in the tea but it ended him in jail and her in the hospital and made the daughter a one-parent child. Erupt with anger he threw acid and disfigured her face. After 15yrs to the incident, when the man was on his death bed in the prison, he wrote a letter to her asking forgiveness and making his last wish to spend the rest of his life with her. Out of love, she forgave him but it was difficult for the grown-up daughter to forgive and accept him as her dad. But greater is the power of love that helps to forgive one another. 😊 The final goal of forgiveness is to restore the broken relationship and gives way to renew the lifestyle.

Another remarkable story is the ghastly attack of 23rd January 1999 in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha state. Some religious fundamentalists burnt alive the Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons Phillip (aged 10) and Timothy (aged 6). The court of law convicted the alleged killers for their brutality. But the statement of Gladys Staines (w/o: Graham Staines) is exemplary for the entire human race irrespective of caste, creed and religious boundaries. She in her affidavit before the Commission on the death of her husband and two sons stated, “The Lord God is always with me to guide me and help me to try to accomplish the work of Graham, but I sometimes wonder why Graham was killed and also what made his assassins behave in such a brutal manner on the night of 22nd/23rd January 1999. It is far from my mind to punish the persons who were responsible for the death of my husband Graham and my two children. But it is my desire and hope that they would repent and would be reformed”. It is our forgiveness which gives an opportunity to the other person to correct himself and walk in righteousness which is never possible by taking the path of wrath.

The Bible says, “Forgive one another, as the Lord God forgives your sins. And as we forgive others and leave the wrath unto God, God takes the vengeance and establishes justice for us which can never be hidden to human eyes.”

Yet, the choice is in your hands “to forgive or take the path of wrath”.

STEPPING STONES TO AN EFFECTIVE APOLOGY

Whenever a delicious dish is served to me, I finish it within no time. I usually take 5 – 15 minutes to finish my meal. After each good and satisfying meal, I tell my wife, “It takes so much time to prepare a meal, but we finish it within 5 or 10 minutes.”

Let’s calculate the time of preparation of a delicious meal… She goes to the market to buy vegetables, meat, spices, rice etc., which takes around 30 minutes. Then she chops them into the right pieces and washes them clean, which takes around say, 25 minutes. Then she marinates the meat for another 30 minutes… Then she starts cooking the meal which takes another 15-30 minutes… garnishing and serving take another 5 minutes… Total time taken to prepare a good and delicious meal is 2 hours. And I finish that same meal within 15 minutes, maximum.  

An apology is that kind of meal that is offered by the person who has done wrong, who prepares it to make it presentable, acceptable and satisfiable for the receiver who has been wronged.

An apology is not a magic word called, ‘Sorry’. I know, my friend Prabhjot in her article talked about three magic words and the word ‘Sorry’ to be one of those three which needs to be taught to the toddlers. Yeah, that’s true…it’s a magic word for the toddlers only. Kids don’t understand the gravity and they needed to be made understand with the words they are acquainted with and magic is quite a catchy word for them. But in the real sense of it, an apology is not at all a magic word but a painstaking expression and action of a person which is offered wholeheartedly to another person.

I will share an experience that my wife went through when she was working in a school as an assistant teacher. There was a teacher who asked my wife to get out of the classroom rudely for some reason. My wife was extremely hurt and approached the higher authorities. The matter was dismissed when that teacher apologised my wife by saying sorry. But my wife still remembers that. She definitely has forgiven her but the hurt was there as a memory. They are not toddlers, they are adults and just an insensitive ‘Sorry’ has no magic in it to restore the relationship or friendship whatever it was.

How then, an apology should look like? What are the stepping stones to present an effective apology?

I was reading an article lately on Psychology Today, my favourite web journal. That article talks about a study that discovered six components of a good apology. They are –

  1. Acceptance of Responsibility.
  2. Offer of Repair.
  3. Expression of Regret.
  4. Explanation of what went wrong.
  5. Declaration of Repentance.
  6. Request for Forgiveness.

I arranged the points or steps exactly how the study explains.

But I have compressed the whole idea into three very easy steps:

Remembering & Regretting about the PAST

Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT

Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE

Let’s discuss them one by one…

1. Remembering & Regretting about the PAST:

I usually get irritated when my mistake is reminded. I say, ‘Past is past…forget it’. But it won’t be forgotten unless I have regretted about it and owned my mess to clean up. My apology is not meant to silence the person who’s hurt but a reminder of my past mistake.

Accepting responsibility is the number one and the most important of all in this category. Accepting that I have made a mistake and making it clear that I am at fault opens up the gate to communicate with the person who is hurt by me. We should always be careful about the ‘BUT or Excuses in Apology’ as warned by Avinash in his article.

The article that I had read on PT, gives an example of two statements which I want to state here for all of us to learn – say, “I’m sorry I said hurtful things” rather than saying, “I’m sorry if you were hurt by my words.”

Accepting responsibility is like garnishing and the smell of the meal a host offers to a guest. It is the act to confirm that I remember what I did, regret about what I did in the past and ready to held responsible for it fully.

2. Realising & Repenting in the PRESENT:

Ranjandini, in her article mentioned about the language of apology, I think that aligns with the expression of regret which is as important as realising and repenting which has to be undertaken by the defaulter one after the other, in the present time when he or she is standing in front of the wronged. Preeta made it very clear that one should apologise if he or she really have a realisation of his or her wrong doings. And the language of apology or the expression of remorse is well extended only after a true realisation.

Secondly, we all know that wrong can’t be corrected, a scar can’t be made clean later, damage can’t be undone but they can always be reduced, comforted, made up, bound up by offering a repair. It can be by writing an apology or clarifying things with the people involved in the damage because of my words towards the person who was hurt or paying compensation and so on… Repair can be done only by a true repentant.

3. Requesting & Recuperating for the FUTURE:

A reconciliation or restoration of relationship is possible when our apology is accepted by the person who was hurt by us but unfortunately, this is not falling on our part of actions as it is solely dependent on the other person. But an effective apology always requires the defaulter to ask forgiveness from the person against whom the wrong had been done. When we face denial our ego may challenge us to take a step back and stop thinking of bending down to complete the whole act of apology and reconcile the strained relationship but we should remember to own the mess by taking responsibility of our wrongs.  

In conclusion, I just want to give stress on the subject of apology by quoting what Prerna said in her article – “every human commits sins and mistakes, so every human should seek forgiveness”, but we should always apologise in the right time – as early as possible. Kalpana, lost the opportunity to apologise to her father because she didn’t do that before it’s too late.

So, friends, before its too late let’s move our feet on those slippery and difficult stepping stones to complete the process of true and effective apology and restore our friendship/relationship. The Bible says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion“. If our confession is true then our apology will be effective. 

Stay Blessed!

THE ‘BUT’ IN AN APOLOGY

All of us deal from a common platform Apart from God, No One Is Perfect. The sting of imperfection is deeply rooted in us since we were conceived and its shackle accompanies us till death. Some of these infections were credited in our heredity, some are the adverse effect of our environment and some are the byproducts of our thoughts. Altogether, irrespective of the intensity of our mistakes, we human sin and hurt every now and then, so THE NEED OF APOLOGY IS INEVITABLE in our life. Usually, as our mistakes are unveiled, we apologize but it is always backed by a BUT!

“Yes, I accept, I have done wrong and I apologize for that, BUT……

While chatting with my friend, unintentionally I hurt her through some inappropriate words. As a result, she was upset on me although I never intend to hurt her. Both of us were not in a good state of mind. In the meanwhile another friend phoned me and after hearing my upset tone he enquired about me. I shared him everything in detail and he replied, Bhai (Brother), “first of all, do not defend yourself with ‘But I never intend to hurt her’, accept that you went absolutely wrong. Wear her shoes and see how much hurtful are those words. I think you need to apologize her without using your excuse word –BUT.”

Often this is our story, we apologize but with an excuse. As we have no option left to hide our sin, situationally we were forced to accept our sinful act but intentionally we don’t. We look for a defense to advocate our mistakes and by raising an excuse we just roll the dice of blame on the other person/situation and tend to gain sympathy. Do you think we have apologized?

Sir Benjamin Franklin says,

“Never ruin an apology with an excuse”

Giving excuse along with an apology does not fit to exact nature of an apology, moreover, it is an inner approval to the sin committed and is the symptom of recurrence. An excuse along with apology is the tactful defense of our Self-righteousness and antagonistic nature to correction. It is the sheer reflection of self-aggrandisation. It is such a grievous state of life where transgression is visible yet our inclination deceives us to take it for granted.

An apology is the realization of the transgression in mind, verbal confession of the transgression, a lesson to rectify the trespassing of the holistic boundary in a relationship and a humble attempt towards the restoration of the brokenness.

God says,

“Confess your sins to each other, forgive one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Apology brings healing and strength to the relationship but when the BUT and IF spine it, It Won’t Work.   

LETTER TO MY FATHER

Dear Father,

Hope You are doing well there. I am fine here. It’s been long since I opened up about my feelings. Today I want to let it flow without any interruption or inhibition.

I want to tell you how much I miss you. The lateral distance between us seems irrelevant as I find you by my side every day in my dreams. Every time I cook your signature dishes I miss your touch in them. Every moment I watch my kids grow up I can imagine your expressions and reactions if you were around them. Every year when my trips are due to my homeland I can visualize how happy you would be to receive me. Whenever I have a disagreement with mom I know you would vouch for me. To put it plain and simple you are never away from me.

But more I find you closer to me more I regret not apologising to you for my rude behaviour, for my harsh words, for my cold shoulder that I gave you when you least expected it. We had a crisis, we stood together and rose to the occasion but I did let anger dwell within me against some of your decisions. The new then-found independence handed me over a bit of arrogance which I sometimes used in my words that hurt you. That was in the spur of the moment though.  You never held any grudge against me. We fell apart but kept flowing together only to reconcile more strongly. I thank you for everything you did for me.

Now having a family of my own I understand how spearheaded words can leave you wounded for long or forever. I plead of being guilty to have done the same to you. I wish I could have apologised to you early. I wish I could have ripped open my heart to you to show how guilt is written all over it. I wish I could talk to you one more time.

I miss you and I am sorry Daddy.

Yours Lovingly,

Daughter.

P.S: please post this letter to heaven as my father resides there.

People say “better late than never” but I would say “do it before it’s too late“. As a family, we all have such moments transpiring among us where in the heat of arguments or disagreements, disappointments, disapproval we end up shooting curses, venomous words to hurt people and satisfy our ego for that moment. Later everything falls back to normalcy. We sometimes apologise, sometimes take “Sorry” for granted and never actually say it because we know our family loves us with all our follies and we move on.  And many a time there are instances that our leniency would never give us a chance to say it to the concerned person even after we realise how wrong we were because that person is gone like in my case.

Remember: Apologise now before it’s too late because later you might have all the courage and beautiful words to express your remorse but the person might not be there with you forever.  Uncertainty’s thy name is LIFE.

APOLOGY, THE ONLY WAY TO WIN AN INCENSED

There is a very famous saying, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”. We, humans, make mistakes and we are not perfect. Even if, we try hard, not to commit sins and mistakes, we end up committing mistakes. Sometimes, we hurt people through our words or action and maybe we don’t realize it. There is no such human who didn’t hurt a person or two, throughout life. As, Rajnandini said in her article, “we can’t please everybody we meet”, but we can apologize.

I remember one incident, my niece was one year old. Like every other household, we too taught her different words like please, thank you etc. One day, she hit her father while playing. We asked her to say sorry, she immediately held her ears and apologized to her father. It seemed so cute that I couldn’t resist myself from planting a soft kiss on her cheeks. Now, she is about to turn 4, and she understands, whenever she hits or hurts somebody, she must seek forgiveness.

Those who think an apology is a sign of being weak, they are always wrong. Seeking forgiveness will never make you weak. Owing to the fact, you are strong enough to realize your mistake and making an effort to win the trust. When you don’t apologize, you lose a valuable person. When you apologize, let it be from within because the fake ones can never restore things.

Since every human commits sins and mistakes, so every human should seek forgiveness, irrespective of their age. Apologizing has a power that heals the wound caused by our words and actions, to some extent. When we apologize, then it shows we value the person and the relationship, like anything. It shows, we are sorry for our action.

Concluding, I would say, an apology is a string that brings back the incensed and one should never miss this string.