Forgiveness: The Key to Peace and Power

I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.  Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note – torn in two, and burned up, so that it never can be shown against one.  ~Henry Ward Beecher

Years ago, there was a movie called “Love Story”. It was a chick flick and I convinced my boyfriend to go with me, tissues in hand. There was one line in the movie where Girl says to Boy, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”.

At the time, I thought it was profound, wonderful. That’s what I was looking for—a love so deep that he would accept me totally, without apology. A love so pure that we would never have conflict or anger. A love so true that I would never have to say “I’m sorry”.

Well, here’s what I found out, to borrow a line from George and Ira Gershwin. “It ain’t necessarily so!”

After more than three decades of marriage, I can share with you a profound idea. People are people. No matter what your hopes or expectations, they will make you mad, disappoint and frustrate you.

Here’s another profound idea. Hurting people hurt people. And they usually are not aware that they did it. They are simply dealing with issues in their own lives and acting accordingly. No matter how you might interpret their words and actions, it probably was not premeditated.

  • Did someone cut you off in traffic? What crisis or pressure were they thinking about that caused them to lose focus on their driving?
  • Was the waitress or clerk inattentive or grumpy? Maybe she has a sick child at home, or financial worries, an ailing parent or some other concern.
  • Did you have a fight with a spouse or someone close to you? What outside issues contributed to the problem?

Here’s a third profound idea. You get to choose how you will react. Every time. You either give someone else the power to upset you and ruin your day. Or you can choose to let go of your own negative emotions and keep your peace.

You see, despite the common belief that “revenge is sweet”, it actually sours your soul. It poisons you from the inside out. When you cling to hurt and anger, you are also holding on to stress, depression and disease. Theology Professor Lewis Smedes said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” 

  • How precious is your peace?
  • What will it cost you to lose it?
  • What price are you willing to pay to get it back?

Here’s something else I found out. Sometimes, it is better to apologize for a situation even if you were right.

 “What!” you might say. “Why would I apologize if I’m right?”

Because, the price of peace is always worth it. I have learned that I can sincerely apologize for my tone of voice, angry words, or the stressful situation without giving up my self-esteem.

“I’m sorry I used that tone of voice. I did not mean to upset you.” OR “I really did not intend to get mad. I’m sorry I reacted that way.”

You have the power to disarm almost every situation. And don’t forget, if you refuse to forget, you have refused to truly forgive. So, freely forgive, freely repent and apologize. Share the gift of harmony and restoration with everyone around you. You will have the power of Peace on your side.

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