To err is human, and to forgive is divine.
That statement, made popular by Alexander Pope in the early 18th century, is a very popular concept in our world today. I decided to do some research on a few of the most common religions as well as Atheism to see what their thoughts are. This is what I discovered:
Christians believe that forgiveness is a choice we make in order to be obedient to God. Colossians 3:13 states, “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (NIV)
The Muslims believe that God forgives a man his sins, but that man himself must also forgive others. At least five names given to God in the Quran reflect his desire to forgive the sinner.
The Jewish religion thinks forgiveness is so important it even has specific periods in which forgiveness is given out. The days before Yom Kipper are traditionally used to ask for forgiveness from others you have wronged.
And, when researching the Atheists’ ideas on forgiveness I found this statement. “But forgiveness, at least the sort I’m talking about here, is not really about the other person at all. It is about us. As something we can do for ourselves, at least in some circumstances, striving to forgive others is a decent idea with benefits. When we hold grudges, resentments, or hatred, we invest our own emotional resources in something that typically ends up being toxic for us. Forgiveness, when possible, relieves this burden and is good for our physical and emotional well-being.” (Atheistrev.com).
Seems forgiveness is pretty important, if you fit into one of the 4 groups above (which constitutes about 82% of Americans today). But it can often be hard to forgive, especially when someone has hurt us.
Try these 7 tips to forgive those who have wronged you:
1. Remind yourself that you are not perfect, and neither is the person who has hurt you. When you have made mistakes in the past, I bet you appreciated being forgiven.
2. Have compassion. Some people are plagued with mental disease. You will never have a rational relationship with them. They will never admit to doing you harm. Remember they are not healthy. They need your prayers more then your anger.
3. Forgive yourself for all you have done wrong. We cannot give to others that which we deny ourselves.
4. Give yourself time.
5. Surround yourself with good, life affirming people.
6. Write a letter to them, telling them what they did to you and how it hurt you. Burn it.
7. Live in the present. And leave the past in the past.
I hope one or more of these tips helps you live a life of forgiveness.