Yes, it was a difficult weekend. I had houseguests, and one of them has truly been wronged. Not once, but many times. Not by strangers, but by his own family. Not long ago, but long ago and recently.
It made me angry just to hear stories, though he told them only as they related to conversation at hand (“So what happened to your father’s farm?” sort of thing), and there was no rancor on his part. Incredulously, he appears to have made his peace with some real injustices. But then that’s one of reasons we all love him so much.
My friend is very forgiving, and there’s a reason why: he’s had a lot of practice. Forgiveness is like another EQ competency, Resilience. The good news is you can learn it. The bad news is there will always be opportunity. And you can reverse those two!
So, yes, my friend is very forgiving. I imagine he has forgiven 77 times. If you’re familiar with Biblical passage: “Then Peter came and said to him, ‘Lord, if another member of church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times.’”
This forgiving friend of mine is of-an-age, and also a physician.
“How could you forgive him for that?” I asked him, about a particularly unjust occurrence.
“Because I want to live and preserve my health,” he said.
Physicians know about emotions and health.
THE TWO WOLVES
There’s a story currently circulating Internet about a Native American grandfather “whose eyes have seen too much,” talking with his grandson. The boy was talking about an injustice that had happened that day that left him enraged.
The grandfather admitted that he, too, had felt such rage. “I feel as if I have two wolves fighting in my heart,” he told child. “One wolf is vengeful, angry, violent one. The other wolf is loving, compassionate one.”
The grandfather said, “I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those who have taken so much with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die.”
When he finished talking, grandson asked him, “Which wolf will win fight in your heart?”
“The one I feed,” replied grandfather.
[Go here http://www.turtle-tracks.org/issue50/i50_3.html to read whole story]
PACO…GIOVANNI…TON…SERGEI…ED, JR…JOHANN…PIERRE … THEIR NAMES ARE LEGION
Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about forgiveness. It’s story of a Spanish father and his teenage son who are at odds, and eventually strained relationship breaks. When Paco, rebellious son, runs away from home, his father begins a long, grief-stricken search to find him and bring him back.
As a last resort, exhausted father placed an ad in a Madrid newspaper, hoping his son would see ad and respond to it. The ad read:
Dear Paco, Please meet me in front of newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. Love, Father
As Hemingway tells story, next day at noon, in front of newspaper office, there are 800 Pacos, all seeking forgiveness from their fathers.
HOW YOU PRESERVE YOUR HEALTH
We have all been wronged. I have been. You have been. Your father has been. The queen of England has been. No one escapes. Some of us have been egregiously wronged and live with rage … for a week, a year, a lifetime. Our anger interferes with our ability to forgive. And why, perhaps you are asking, should you forgive? There has been incest … infidelity … theft … betrayal … Certainly you’re justified in your rancor after what’s been done to you. Frederick Buechner, theologian, writes: “Of seven deadly sins, anger is possibly most fun. To lick your wounds, to smack your lips over grievances long past, to roll over your tongue prospect of bitter confrontations still to come, to savor to last toothsome morsel both pain you are given and pain you are giving back – in many ways it is a feast fit for a king. The chief drawback is that what you are wolfing down is yourself. The skeleton at feast is you.”