Friday, December 5, 2008

Being a Forgiver

Watching the Goldman family in the courtroom today as OJ Simpson was being sentenced in a case unconnected to that infamous one, I wondered as the sister of the deceased seemed to have grown thinner and more wiry over these many years, how life was treating her. She has always seemed so bitter, creating a furrowed brow and intense harshness around her eyes and mouth developing into ungraceful lines, indicative of perhaps a heart of unforgiveness.

Myrlie Evers, the wife of the slain civil rights leader Medger Evers, seemed to have the same consuming bitterness. Some years ago whenever I heard Mrs. Evers speak of the event or those who were released whom she believed had murdered her husband on their doorstep, there was a narrowness in her eyes, a tightness around her mouth, and a harshness in her speech that also seemed indicative of a heart of unforgiveness.

Unforgiveness has a detrimental affect on those who do not forgive.

A forgiving heart is health to the one who forgives.


wmmbb said...

Forgiveness is easier said than done, Judith, but as you say necessary as it is challenging. Maybe others have to help. Perhaps we should all practice forgiveness in small things so we are ready when big issues come along.

judith ellis said...

Words have creative power. Sometimes if I say a thing long enough I begin to believe it and my actions follow suit.

Forgiveness is something that I have long practiced having watched my mother work through heartfelt times of forgiveness. She was determined to love and was never embittered.

For me forgiveness is not a matter of degree; it's a matter of commitment. A commitment I make to myself. It's a matter of love. Forgiveness, however, is not a substitute for the lack of wisdom. Wisdom in any situation is the principle thing.

Through unforgiveness we give our lives over to others, often those whom we will not forgive.

Cynthia said...

So true, often though so hard to
forgive. However, I agree each
must try, I will try harder.

judith ellis said...

Love trumps unforgiveness every time. Unforgiveness is a great soul snatcher. It is an inner destroyer. Love is the more excellent way.

I practice forgiveness daily through doing things that I would not innately do when I am terribly upset and thinking positively when it would be far easier to think negatively.

Many times it is so easy to dwell on the wrong done to us or thought to be done. Many times the latter is true. Often time what we believe to be true is in our own thoughts. But it does not even matter. I simply refuse to dwell on negativity.

Though I am typically one who forgives, I cannot express enough the necessity of wisdom and good judgment in ALL matters. I try not to practice foolishness.

Fogiveness is state of consciousness. It is a decision. To love is the better decision, for it is very difficult for love and unforgiveness to occupy the same space. Both are consuming fires.

John O'Leary said...

Judith, the irony of this is that the cost of not forgiving is paid by the person who hasn't forgiven, not the individual who hasn't been forgiven. (The latter individual is often in his or her own little world, oblivious to the scale of the damage caused.) But the resentment that builds up when one continues to not forgive another has very tangible (and no doubt measurable) effects on one's own body.

I think the reason more people don't practice forgiveness is that they assume it has to include other acts. For instance, forgiving someone does not mean you're going to now "make nice" with that individual. In fact I'll be taking someone to court whom I've actually forgiven. (I helped a friend in a financial transaction, who has subsequently disappeared, living me to pay some exorbitant bills.) I now understand how and why she did what she did, given the financial situation she put herself in, and I forgive her for it as a friend and sincerely wish her well, but I still need to take legal action against her (once I find her!) to recoup my losses.

judith ellis said...

I agree, John. Forgiveness does not depend on others. I understand fully your desire to recoup losses and you have, needless to say, every right to do so. But there is also debt forgiveness that is powerfully transformative too. Here again, wisdom is needed in making such decisions. In any regard, the decisons of others are respected.

CJ said...

I see what you are saying, Judith, but I also see what John is saying too.

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the relationship can ever be what it was again. I can decide that the offence done is an example of what I can expect should I continue in said friendship or relationship, and that I want no more of it.

I was once in a relationship with a woman who physically and emotionally abused me. Mind you, each time she would come crying and asking me to forgive her.

I have forgiven her but, even if I were single, I would not want her back. Trust issues. Trust has clearly been violated.

But I do wish her well.

judith ellis said...

"Forgiveness does not necessarily mean the relationship can ever be what it was again."

CJ - This, my friend, is often most certainly true. Asking or granting forgiveness does not insure that things can be as they once were. This is why our words and actions are so very important. I try to remember this daily.

I appreciate your words.