Before I dropped it into the recycling bin, I decided to skim through the pages to see what it was all about. There is a picture of Colin Powell smiling at us from the front of the magazine, and he has an article about how he won the battle against prostate cancer. Interesting, but not what excited me today.
Then there were some good diet tips, and an article on how to "walk your way to stress relief". Good stuff, but still not what got me.
Then I turned the page and saw Oprah Winfrey smiling out at me."What Oprah knows about forgiveness." That got my attention. Now, I am not a big Oprah fan, but before you walk away, let me say that I appreciate much of the good she has done through her program and influence...however, she kind of veered off the trail a few times and took a few people with her I fear, in the spiritual sense. But putting that aside, this particular article is one of the good things she shared, and I found it extremely factual and even biblical. It's so good, in fact, I'd like to share the highlights of it with you:
Quoting Oprah from this article:
"I always love Aha! moments," Oprah says. "When somebody says something that made us look at life in a completely new way. When I first heard that, I literally got goose bumps. The message that came through so clearly and stayed with me is this: 'Forgive, so you can truly live.' Forgiveness is letting go, so the past does not hold you prisoner, does not hold you hostage."
The article goes on to say:
"Forgiveness doesn't mean you condone the behavior or, in any way, make a wrong into a right. It simply means that you give yourself permission to release from your past. It's accepting that it has happened to you--not accepting that it was okay--but that it has happened. It's not holding on, hoping, wishing that it could have been any other way."
"If you haven't been able to forgive, then you're holding on to something. The person who hurt you has moved on in their life, but you are stuck in the anger--you're stuck in the negativity. It takes a lot of energy to hold a grudge and be angy at somebody. The truth is if you're holding a grudge, that grudge is really holding you."
Oprah says, "We think unforgiveness protects us, but in fact it really doesn't--it poisons us. It has everything to do with you and nothing to do with the other person. Unforgiveness blocks you from taking the risk of love." "One of my favorite quotes is 'Unforgivenss unchecked becomes a cancer of the soul.' What I know is that forgiveness is like medicine--medicine that can heal your pain. It can bring you peace. Forgiveness is something that you do for yourself. Forgiveness means that what someone did no longer is going to affect how you live in the present moment. When I got that, it took me to the next level of being a better person."
What does the Bible teach us about forgiveness?
"For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do NOT forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Matthew 6:14-15
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32
"Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do." Colossians 3:12-13
"Then Peter came to Him and said, 'Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?' Jesus said to him, 'I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.'"
This is just a random sampling of the many passages in scripture regarding the subject of forgiveness. Actually, the whole Bible is a story of forgiveness...if you think about it...
So why is it such a difficult thing for us to do? Why do we hang on to our bitterness, hatred, anger, and unforgiving spirit, when we have been forgiven of so much ourselves? Good question. I know from personal experience that when I harbored unforgiveness in my heart toward someone, it kept me bound in fear, anger and huge resentment. I could not love, I could not care, I could not grow. My spiritual growth was stunted, and I was evolving into someone ugly and mean spirited. When I allowed myself to forgive and move on with my life, when I was actually able to tell the other person that I forgave them, I was set free. Whether or not they accepted my forgiveness was not my problem. That was theirs to grapple with. Of course, we always like to have the happy endings, where everyone forgives and forgets and loves like nothing ever happened. That seldom happens...but if we can forgive and let go of the bitterness and resentment, we can love again...only much wiser and stronger. And who knows but that our act of forgiveness might even open the door for the other person to grow and change too? It just might...but even if it doesn't, forgive anyway and move on to brighter days.
Some good things to think about today, don't you think? Do you have someone in your life that you need to forgive? What do you have to lose? You may actually gain a new perspective on living...and a brighter, healthier life, both physically, spiritually and mentally. Sounds like a good plan to me.
The Song "Forgiveness" by Matthew West -- check out this link for a great song about what we've been talking about. Great story behind this song too.
For More discussion on this topic, hop over to the next post, entitled: Forgiveness, Part II. That should pretty well cover the subject I hope! If not, please forgive me! :)