Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Beautiful Gift

The holiday season has just passed and the new year is now upon us. I know that we all have different customs and traditions that we observed. Usually those involve family and friends. Sometimes it’s the only chance during the year that we see or hear from certain family or friends. This interaction or lack of interaction with family and friends can bring a variety of emotions. Sometimes it is joy and excitement; sometimes it is remembering the loss of someone; and sometimes it is feelings of anger or hurt.

It was also a season of gift giving. Did you get what you were hoping for or something wonderful? How about giving yourself a beautiful gift for the new year? We don’t usually think about giving gifts to ourselves. After all, we are taught “it is better to give than to receive”, but isn't it the most wonderful things in life that when given away, become a gift back to us? Love, a kind word, your smile… Forgiveness.

It is a universal concept discussed in psychology, philosophy, and many religions. Wikipedia actually has a great comprehensive definition of what forgiveness is and what forgiveness isn't.

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes
1)      A change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense
2)      Releasing negative emotions such as revenge, with an increased ability to wish the offender well
Forgiveness is not
1)      Condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness)
2)      Excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action)
3)      Officially Pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge)
4)      Forgetting (removing awareness of the offence from consciousness)
5)      Reconciliation (restoration of a relationship)

Did you ever have one of those fights with someone and you don’t remember how it started or what exactly it was about? You remember that you are mad at them and you feel like you have a good reason to be. However, when you run into each other at a store; you remember how much you miss them; say you are sorry; hug and that’s the end of it.

When Jesus forgives, our wrong doings are thrown into the Sea of Forgetfulness. We've all heard that phrase “forgive and forget”; however, as humans, we don’t always have that capability. Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

There are those situations that cause a deep and sometimes continual hurt inside of you. You may remember all too well what caused what you’re feeling and will never forget. Should you forgive that person? What if they don’t ask for forgiveness or feel that they have done nothing wrong? Perhaps the person has already passed away. Maybe you don’t really want to forgive them because you feel that it would justify or condone the wrong doing, but it doesn't. Forgiving them doesn't mean you have to let them back into or life and there may be reasons that you shouldn't let them back in.

There is a certain miracle that takes place with forgiveness. When you receive forgiveness, it frees you from the wrong doing; but when you give the gift of forgiveness, you receive the beautiful gift of freedom from the wrong done to you. It is often the beginning of the healing process.

I love the ending to “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” when he realizes that despite everything he’s done and taken, he’s not able to really steal Christmas from the people of Whoville. Then his heart grows three times its size. You may have some grinches in your life that have tried to destroy your happiness. Give yourself a beautiful gift this new year and forgive them.  I can’t guarantee that their heart will grow three times its size….   but perhaps yours will. 

Happy New Year!!