When I was growing up, forgiveness seemed like another way of saying “I am sorry.” I didn’t begin to understand the meaning of forgiveness until I was in about fifth grade. My mom, who was a Protestant, made me apologize for something that wasn’t my fault. At that moment, I think I began to understand – Why I forgive?
Lessons in Forgiveness 101
My mother told me to be “humble and caring.” It felt like she was giving me the Introduction to a “Forgiveness 101” lecture! What I learned about forgiveness; although, not at first, was enlightening. “I am sorry,” is about the other person or people. When I figured out “forgiveness is about me and my relationship with God,” my whole perspective changed. I am glad my mother started the conversation about forgiveness early. It helped me through many challenging times in my life.
We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered. The Bible teaches that unselfish love is the basis for true forgiveness since love “does not keep account of the injury.”—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.Bible
My belief in forgiveness helped me move through my confused early adulthood. A time full of difficult challenges that I didn’t have the maturity to manage, and pain I didn’t have the fortitude to get through. I never felt I had anyone I could turn to when the seas got rough. My parents lived overseas and I felt everyone was detached as I got older living on my own in the United States. If only I had known, I could have prayed for a “Plan B.”
Islam has been a counterbalance
There is nothing I enjoy more than having interfaith conversations with my Muslim friends. They counterbalanced my Christian beliefs. In a conversation with a friend from Libya about forgiveness and repentance in Islam, he sounded like the Catholic Jesuit I once knew. He quoted the Surah below:
“The reward of the evil is the evil thereof, but whosoever forgives and makes amends, his reward is upon God.” (42:40) Endure you patiently. Your patience is not except through the help of God…” (16:126-27) Surah ash Shuaa-Al-Qur’an-al-Kareen
Through repentance, Muslims can wipe out sins and misdeeds before they die. Muslims pray five times per day/every day as a commitment to God, their faith, and their ardent desire to repent. Repentance is not something that can be done at the last minute for Muslims. Some Christians believe they can sin until they are on their final deathbed.
The road well travelled
I chose to walk a bumpy road well-traveled. Someone recently asked me if I could give them a summary of my life. My head felt like it was spinning almost immediately. I always felt I was looking for a home; however, couldn’t find it. Third Culture Kid Syndrome!
My nomadic lifestyle kept me unknowingly running towards problems, solving problems, or running away from problems. However, I didn’t realize until recently that the problems I wanted to escape the most were following right along with me. I felt moments of forgiveness and gratitude along the way, but my choices? Hard Reality!!!
Hindsight is 20/20. However, as my Dad would so poignantly say, “It is done, what is the point of looking back, go forward.” I disagree! There is value in looking back over one’s life in a autobiographic or therapeutic way.
I forgive you, and you, and you, and everyone else!