Forgiveness is not for wimps

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Mahatma Gandhi

                   One of most provocative descriptions of forgiveness that I have come across is “to give for” – to give some actual, definite good in return for the seeming harm given.

I had the opportunity to witness such forgiveness by a young woman named Melissa.

Melissa was an aspiring model whose career was crushed because her legs were mangled by a car driven by a drunk driver.  The case went to trial and the driver was found guilty. The day arrived for the driver to be sentenced. Melissa was quite popular and there were many people in the courtroom that day who came with an agenda of retribution and revenge against the person who caused this tragic event in Melissa’s life.

On the human level, it would have been understandable if Melissa harbored resentment and anger toward the man who snuffed out her dream to be a super model.  But something surprising and unexpected took place – at least to most of the people present in the courtroom that day.

Melissa pleaded with the judge to not send the man to jail.

She said to the judge, “He didn’t do it on purpose.”

Melissa then turned to the man who caused her to have her legs amputated and live a life relegated to a wheel chair and said to him, “I don’t hate you. I’m mad a alcohol. But I don’t hate you.”

The man began to cry. Tears rolled down his cheeks.

Melissa then beckoned him to her wheelchair. He came close to her and Melissa reached up to the man, handed him a Kleenex, hugged him and said to him “I forgive you.” And they embraced.

Some of people who were there with their desire for retribution and revenge were distressed by Melissa’s actions.

Ultimately, the judge did not go along with her plea for leniency. The man was sentenced to jail as requested by the prosecution. The judge said the man had to be held accountable for his actions. In that regard it was probably the right decision.

But the real story and important truth is that Melissa was able to see this man as he truly is – a child of God. Because she was able to see him rightly, she was free.

Forgiveness, among other things is the ability to no longer carry a past experience into the present moment. Melissa was able to let go of that past experience – as horrendous as it was – and live in the here and now. No doubt, she went through a process to get to the point where she could distinguish between what the man did and the truth about him.

Melissa aligned her mind and soul with love – the truth of her being.

There are times in our lives we will be faced with the choice to answer a call for forgiveness. In some instances it may be to forgive ourselves. Other times, it may be a call to forgive others, institutions or groups who we perceive to have done something to or against us – to give some good in return for a real or perceived harm.

We have the ability to no longer carry the baggage of a past experience and begin anew.

As we do, we express our true, authentic, and strong selves.  And like Melissa, we will be free.

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