Forgiving Rather than Festering

Henry was devastated when he learned that his grandson, Eric, had been suspended from school for remarks he had posted online about a fellow student. Since Eric was due to take Henry to the hospital, he decided to use the trip to discuss the suspension.

Henry:  Son, what possessed you to do that posting? I thought that we had taught you better than that.

Eric:  Poppy, that boy deserved it. He and his buddies have been harassing me for this entire year.

Henry:  Why do you think they were harassing you?

Eric:  I was the only boy to pass the computer science test. They wanted me to give them the answers. Remember we were doing remote testing at the time, and I wouldn’t cheat. When classes returned to in person, that’s when the harassment started.

Henry:  I understand, but I’ve never felt that revenge was the answer.

Eric:  But what would you have done?

Henry:  I can’t tell you what to do in this case, but let me share with you a story from when I was in the first Gulf War. We were on patrol when we were attacked. Thankfully none of my squad were killed, but several were injured. When the fighting stopped, we cleared the area. I came across one of the enemy who was badly injured but still alive.

I just couldn’t leave him there. I knelt beside him to stop the bleeding. He asked for water. I put his head in my lap and slowly gave him water from my canteen. That’s when I learned a lesson that has guided me the rest of my life.

Eric:  What’s that Poppy?

Henry:  You can’t hate a person when their head is in your lap. When Sayed was stronger, I took him to our medics. They worked on him.  I would visit Sayed in the medic tent. You know, he was just like us. We were of different faiths, but our beliefs and values were the same.

Eric:  What happened when he got better?

Henry:  Thankfully the war was over and he was set free. I convinced my command that he posed no threat. Sayed and I have kept in touch. We even share messages on each of our holy days.

Eric:  WOW!! I never knew that. I can see why you told me that story, but I don’t see how it helps in my situation.

Henry:  You were right not to go along with the cheating. But now that he has failed, think about what you can do. His head is in your lap.

When someone does something wrong that is directed toward us, we have two options: Forgive or Fester. We could let the person’s action fester in our mind and become a lingering wound. What good would that do? Or we can be forgiving. Maybe our forgiveness won’t be reciprocated, but at least it heals our wound.

Just imagine how difficult it is for our society to forgive? Why do we continue to make our wounds worse? Why do we imagine that forgiveness is a sign of weakness when it is in reality the ultimate symbol of strength? What might it take to have forgiveness as a national value?

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“Forgiveness is unlocking the door to set someone free, and realizing you were the prisoner!”  – Max Lucado (Author and pastor)

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