I have always been inspired by the thought of Jesus Christ asking God to forgive those who sought his life as they were yet in the act of sacrificing him.
Recently, my thoughts have turned to His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. He must have understood fully his captors as he suffered for their sins and pain just as he suffered for everyone else. Christianity teaches that He paid for the transgressions of both the just and the unjust.
This idea seems to be explained in Buddhism as well.
"To understand everything is to forgive everything," is a quote gleaned from http://sourcesofinsight.com/buddha-quotes/ under the title of anger, forgiveness and compassion.
I love the simplicity of this statement. This sentence gives me hope that I will be able to forgive that which I understand.
As we head into a New Year, it is my desire to inspire myself and others to let go of the past and forgive so we can start with a clean slate.
Doing so will bring many benefits. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic list the following benefits to forgiveness:
* Healthier relationships.
* Greater spiritual and psychological well-being.
* Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
* Lower blood pressure.
* Fewer symptoms of depression.
* Lower risk of alcohol and substance abuse.
Mayo Clinic doctors offer these tips for reaching a state of forgiveness:
* Consider the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life at a given time.
* Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you've reacted, and how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being.
* When you're ready, actively choose to forgive the person who's offended you.
* Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life.
These tips and more are found at http://www.mayoclinic.org/forgiveness/ART-20047692.
I believe there is never any better time than the present to forgive.
"The longer we nurture the anger and alienation, the more deeply the resentment takes hold in our heart, and the more it feeds on our soul," reads a website for members and guests of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese.
"Resentment is a cancer that will destroy us if we don't forgive. It also leaks out and damages our relations with others when we slander and gossip about those who have offended us and try to draw others to our own side."
The website is found at http://www.antiochian.org/content/forgiveness-and-reconciliation-how-for....
I have often hesitated in my forgiveness. I knew I wanted to forgive. I just wasn't quite ready to stop being mad.
Lewis B. Smedes, in his book Forgive & Forget: Healing the Hurts We Don't Deserve, (Harpercollins Publishing, 2007, $13.99) writes:
"Forgiveness is God's invention for coming to terms with a world in which, despite their best intentions, people are unfair to each other and hurt each other deeply. He began by forgiving us. And he invites us all to forgive each other."
Numerous quotes from Smedes' books and a few other authors are found at: http://www.abuddhistlibrary.com/Buddhism/F-%20Miscellaneous/General%20Mi....
No one says forgiveness is easy.
"Forgiving others is sometimes very hard, but it is essential if you want to break out of the bondage that it's brought you under," said authors of http://www.greatbiblestudy.com/sws_unforgiveness.php.
The Great Bible Study authors offer a sense of urgency in their outline of forgiveness.
"Wounds can fester into infections if left untreated," they said.
"Whatever was done to us pierced our skin, but if we keep prying it open and looking at the wound, it won't be able to heal... instead, because it is continually exposed to the dirty air, it becomes infected.
"That infection in the spiritual realm is welcoming to unclean spirits, which fester the wound even more. If something isn't done, the person ends up facing demonic harassment and torture, and becomes a very bitter and unhappy person."
But authors on forgiveness are careful to explain that only true forgiveness is helpful when it is appropriate and healthy. They warn never to make unhealthy choices.
In her book Forgiveness: A Bold Choice For A Peaceful Heart (Bantam, 1992, $16), Robin Casarjian said: "It is important not to confuse being forgiving with denying your own feelings, needs, and desires. Forgiving doesn't mean being passive and staying in a job or a relationship that clearly doesn't work for you or is abusive.
"It is important that you are clear about your boundaries. What is acceptable for you? If you are willing to allow unacceptable behavior again and again in the name of 'forgiveness,' you are more than likely using 'forgiveness' as an excuse not to take responsibility for taking care of yourself or as a way to avoid making changes."
Contact reporter JaNae Francis at 801-625-4228 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @jfrancis.