Forgiveness—Even If You Don’t Love Me Anymore

Posted by on Jun 5, 2014 in Anger, Forgiveness, Redemption, Transformation | 2 comments

“Craig, I know I need to forgive you…but it isn’t today. I’ll let you know when it is.” So spoke a friend, I had seriously offended, once we met and he had a chance to clear the air of the anger he felt toward me. “The more I know, the less I understand All the things I thought I figured out, I have to learn again. I’ve been tryin’ to get down to the Heart of the Matter, But everything changes And my friends seem to scatter, But I think it’s about forgiveness, Forgiveness, Even if, even if you don’t love me anymore.” So sang Don Henley of the Eagles when he came face to face with the gnawing realization that for his own health and the benefit of any future relationships he might have, he needed to forgive a person who hurt him, no matter her response. His insights remind me of Christian author Neal Anderson who made the point in his book, The Bondage Breaker, that when we remain angry at others who we think we are keeping on the hook, in reality it is WE who are hanging on the hook. That other person may have no clue just exactly how miserable we are; they’ve moved on. We haven’t. He writes, “Bitterness is the acid that eats its own container.” Men, I think practicing forgiveness is one of the biggest life lessons we need to learn. It is truly for our own benefit—yet it also becomes a gift to the forgiven. Years ago I seriously offended a good friend of mine. When we met to resolve the conflict he said, “Craig, I know I need to forgive you…but it isn’t today. I’ll let you know when it is.” Several months later, on Dec. 31st of that year I picked up my ringing phone to hear that man’s voice on the other end. “Craig, I’ve decided I don’t want to take my anger at you into another year. Today is the day I forgive you.” That had the ring of genuine forgiveness, not just the shallow insincere words we sometimes say when forced to forgive. With those words he gave me a significant gift. Yet the gift of release and freedom he gave himself was even bigger. Following are two examples of forgiveness granted to another in extreme circumstances. Both come from other cultures that revere the act of forgiveness. It comes no easier to them than it does to us; it’s just that they may value it more highly than we do. The first takes place in Iran where the family of a victim has the right to insist on retribution or to forgive the criminal, in which case he is released. Here a mother frees her son’s murderer from death by hanging. Mother Forgives Her Son’s Killer. She had no intention of doing so, but in this article she tells the amazing way she was released by releasing him. Rather than kick over the chair the murderer stood on, with a noose around his neck, the mother climbed it to reach over and take off the noose. The second takes place in Rwanda where in 1994 the genocide began between two tribes that eventually resulted in the death of over 1 million people. Can you imagine forgiving the man who slaughtered your family? Watch how she does. “How do they do this?” we might ask. My response is that they do it because they understand true forgiveness. In releasing their insistence on vengeance they free themselves from the acid of bitterness toward the person who caused...

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It’s About Forgiveness

Posted by on Jan 6, 2014 in Character, Compassion, Courage, Culture, Forgiveness, Redemption, Transformation | 0 comments

Last month I posted some comments about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, One Man Matters, noting that one of the greatest impacts he had in his latter years was to demonstrate what forgiveness looks like. Recently, my son Alec sent me a link to a blog by Tullian Tchividjian, Forgiven People Forgive, on the same theme. (Tchividjian is the grandson of Billy Graham and the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church). He points out that two team mates of Riley Cooper, of the Philadelphia Eagles, had very different responses to the video that became public showing Cooper using the racial slur while drunk at a concert. Cooper’s words were offensive and inexcusable. He immediately made a public apology beginning, “I am so ashamed and disgusted with myself. I want to apologize. I have been offensive….” Michael Vick and Le Sean McCoy, both African-American teammates of Cooper’s, made their own public comments. Vick said, “As a team we understood because we all make mistakes in life and we all do and say things that maybe we do mean and maybe we don’t mean. But as a teammate I forgave him.” McCoy said, “I forgive him. We’ve been friends for a long time. But in a situation like this you really find out about someone. Just on a friendship level, I can’t really respect someone like that…I guess the real him came out that day.” Both were kind enough to say they forgave Cooper, but Tchividjian makes the important point: Vick said, “We”; McCoy said, “Him.” Vick’s words were inclusive; McCoy’s distanced himself. What factor may have resulted in a kinder reply from Vick? No doubt the 21 months in prison and his own stunning public downfall following the exposure of his dog-fight gambling ring. Take a look at Tullian’s blog. It’s a reminder that when we’re honest about our own brokenness, we can embrace a sincerely remorseful apology from someone whose behavior we disagree with. Even someone who offends us. It’s about...

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