by the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird
The famous public speaker Charles Spurgeon once said: “Forgive and forget. When you buy a mad dog, don’t leave its tail above the ground.” If you are like me, you were taught as a little child by your parents to say that you were sorry when you hurt people and to forgive when they hurt you. Most of you reading this have probably been taught this and know this to be essential to daily living in our families, our workplaces and our schools. We all believe this intellectually, but when someone really hurts us deeply and unfairly, it is really hard to do.
They say that it is usually easier to forgive an enemy than a friend. Why is this so? I know from personal experience that I can hurt my wife and sons (often unintentionally) far deeper than my acquaintances. I often forget that it’s the little things that really make a wife feel appreciated and loved. I believe that there is no one that we both hurt and love more than our families. Only daily forgiveness and repentance (saying you’re sorry and changing your behavior) can keep today’s families together.
Benjamin Franklin said “Doing an injury puts you below your enemy; revenge makes you but even with him; forgiving sets you above him” I always thought that I was good at forgiving, until a close acquaintance hurt me deeply and very unfairly. I thought to myself “I’ll just forgive him and get on with it.” It took me over 16 years to truly forgive him from my heart. I had to forgive him day after day after day. I discovered that I was a poor forgiver, and that true forgiveness is a miracle. It is humanly impossible. Without help from a higher power, revenge will always control us. We go sour and bitter inside. The Bible calls this disease “The Root of Bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15).
I have come to realize that forgiveness is not just a nice option for me. It’s life or death (both physically and emotionally). That’s why a wise Sage named Paul once said “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other just as Christ God forgave you.”
My prayer for those reading this article is that forgiveness may not be just a word, or an intellectual belief, but rather a daily experience.
The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, BSW, MDiv, DMin
-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier/North Shore
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