While reviewing literature on forgiveness, I came across a most delightful cassette album on this subject by Dr. Joan Borysenko, an internationally renowned expert in mind-body medicine and immune function. She named this cassette album as, "Seventy Times Seven." Fascinating title! You guessed it right. Her choice of name is based on the Biblical story.
Peter comes up to Jesus and asks, "Lord how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? 'till seven times? Jesus says to Peter, "I do not say unto you seven times: but, until seventy times seven."
An interesting choice, the number seven is. Various myths and religions across the world treat the number seven as a sacred number with cosmic and spiritual significance. Seventy times seven is even more sacred, universal and eternal. To forgive seventy times seven suggests that forgiveness is a spiritual act and we should maintain an attitude of forgiveness in our lives.
It is easy to love those who love us. It is difficult to
like those who are critical of us. Yet, it is crucial to forgive
those who hurt us. Forgiveness is a challenge, but countless people
are able to meet the challenge. They not only forgive, but even go
to the extent of helping their tormentors.
I am always shocked and moved by the courage of people who forgive those who robbed them of their childhood, crippled them for life, or murdered members of their families. A victim who has been traumatized so severely has every reason to hate his or her tormentor. Those who can transcend such justified.hatred are extraordinarily morally and spiritually developed people. Forgiveness is indeed for brave hearts.
Those who forgive are not condoning perpetrators of wrongful acts. Their forgiving should not be understood to imply, "You can do it again to me." Those who forgive are simply saying to their own selves, "This hate cannot run my life any more."
Don't rush to forgive. Merely paying lip service to the words, "I forgive you" won't help to break the cycle of anger, shame, and helplessness. True forgiveness is only possible after we complete the required emotional work. We are not really able to forgive until we have worked through, at least, the intense part of our pain, anger, grief, and helplessness.
It's only after the necessary emotional work has been done that the victim in us is ready to take the "big leap," that is, to forgive the tormentor. When we work up our courage and take the big leap of forgiving people who caused us intense pain and hurt, we can set ourselves free from shackles of past.
The wounds can then heal at the core and we don't victimize ourselves over and over again from the old trauma. When we are no longer chained to the past, the time of the old trauma, we can live in the present moment. Living in the present moment is true freedom. Forgiveness sets the forgiver free. This is why Joan Borysenko says that another name of "forgiveness" is "freedomness," because it frees one from the cycle of hate and fear.
Those who forgive experience an elevation in self-esteem. They feel better because they finally say to their aggressors, "You have controlled me enough in the past, but now you can't control me anymore. I decide how I want to live my life from now on. I am in-charge here. I choose how I want to live my life."
How about when you are angry with yourself and can't forgive what you
once did or failed to do? It is more difficult to forgive yourself
than to forgive others, especially, if you tend to be hard on yourself
or have unrealistic expectations of yourself. If that is true of
you, ask yourself how you would counsel your friend or your child who is
tormenting himself or herself over something that was beyond his or her
control. Then, heed upon your own counsel.
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Copyright 1996, Mind