By Alan Bailey
When you are not happy inside, it makes it worse to see others who seem so light-hearted, as though they have not a care in the world. Then you ask, "Why did all this happen to me?" The first step to self-pity. Learning to forgive from the heart is a most important step back to normal living. Holding a grudge, nursing a hurt, does not make for normal living.
Commonly we hear, "If you knew what kind of person I'm dealing with, you would realise that a peaceful relationship is out of the question. I've tried before and failed."
Whether the other person changes or not may depend on you and how much you are prepared to trust them with another chance. If you were in the other person's position, would you like another opportunity to start again, to rebuild? Not just after one failure but after many? Yes, there is a risk involved. But life is full of risks and perhaps this is one you ought to take.
True, there are some who are hard and unresponsive to any approach. Difficult as it is to do, respond with a loving attitude. Drain away all the old hostility and ill-will just like old black oil from a car sump. Letting it go will help you, and may be the vital link in breaking the hardness of the other.
Then, it is often said, "I may forgive but I cannot forget. No way!" If we mean that we cannot rub out something from our memory by an act of the will, we are right. No, this kind of forgetting means laying it all to rest, just like burying the deceased cat in the back yard. It is best then to leave it there.
So the clue then is to begin with honesty in everything. Keep calm and try not to be superior to the wrong-doer. Do not make unreal and impossible demands, but act like two very valuable beings. Try to feel for the other person as well as yourself.
At one time a rich man called upon one of his debtors to pay up a huge amount that he owed. The debtor pleaded his inability. On the spot, the rich man forgave all. Shortly afterwards, the freed debtor grasped the throat of a man who owed him only a few dollars and demanded that he pay or else. The rich man, on hearing about this was angry and recalled the debtor to exact all he owed.
The story was told by Jesus. He also said that God will not forgive us our huge debt if we do not forgive others their small (by comparison) debts. He should know. As the Saviour of the world "He paid a debt He did not owe; we owed a debt we could not pay." His death on the cross was the tremendous price paid for my debt of sin against God. I am freely, totally forgiven.
We need to reach out for that forgiveness and when we do, we will realise how necessary it is for us to forgive another human being.