Today in the United States of America we our celebrating our independence day. Our freedom was won in becoming our own nation over England, we wanted to be free and so we did that by putting together our model of government and fighting a war against the British. In the end, we became a country!
Freedom isn’t free, it is a costly process but it is worth it through and through. Freedom is also a symbiotic relationship; by giving it to someone else the tension that was there, the hard times and heartache is lessened to a large extent to the receiver but also to the giver.
I am reminded of Desmond Tutu’s work in South Africa after Apartheid by way of the Truth And Reconciliation Commission:
Knowing that it can be done on such a large scale makes it all that more “easier” to do. I say easier loosely because rape occurs in the world, police brutality occurs, families fight over significant and mundane things, and forgiving is hard and perhaps healing is even harder.
As a follower of Christ I am reminded of two Bible verses pertaining to forgiveness:
Matthew 5:44 – “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Matthew 18:21-22 -21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
It’s why I think the words and actions of Jesus are so revolutionary in today’s world as they were in his day and age because it shifts paradigms, it breaks down walls, it takes the way we do things and says ‘we can do better than what we once could do’. Instead of letting the anger and frustration and pain become an unending cycle of violence, choosing to forgive takes the anger and frustration and pain we have and removes it from the equation.
Now when it comes to forgetting offenses past and present I think that’s a delicate subject in and of itself. Because I think that it’s nearly impossible to do, however it is possible to learn from those experiences and say I never want to do that again / I never want to do that again to others. And we grow and hopefully we’re able to go on but I do realize that offenses aren’t the same and it takes different amounts of time and forgiveness to get to a place where the pain we feel is removed from the equation (and some occasions it never leaves)…but it’s worth trying regardless!
So with all that being said, forgiveness is my keyword on this 17th day of Ramadan. Thanks be to God who is quick to forgive us and is slow to anger. May we ourselves also learn to forgive others and learn to forget what others have done so that we don’t have to perpetuate a cycle that only causes pain and suffering in our lives as well as in the lives of others. May we also learn to forgive ourselves when the occasion calls for it as well.
Salaam alaikum be yours now and always,