I need to warn you this morning that you may find today’s topic and content a bit difficult to digest. But I know that we will all be better people if we accept a couple of things that I am going to talk to you about this morning.
I want to read you a post by Terrance Seamon who said, “Name a word you hardly ever hear about in relation to the workplace. While there are probably many answers, the one I mention is sorry. Someone drops the ball, misses.” “. to meet expectations, does anyone skip a due date? What do we do? forgive them? What would be the consequences of forgiveness in the workplace?” Can you see what happens? How difficult is forgiveness in the workplace? I’m sure that even when I started talking, incidents come to mind, of times someone close to you has let you down.
William Blake said, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” Sometimes when things happen to us or people around us let us down, it hurts even more. Or when people trample you up the ladder, or use you for donkey work and then get the credit. Our natural response is “Every dog has his day. One day I’ll get even. One day I’ll have my day in the sun.”
But, I want to push you all a little bit on this call today. Forgiveness is not about other people; forgiveness is about you and me. An unforgiving person is more damaged by that unforgiving spirit than the person who has done something to you or me. It’s like the old days when soldiers went to war in armor, and the hope was that this would protect them. They had helmets and armor down to their shoes. They believed that no spear could pierce that armor. But it didn’t stop one person from dying of a heart attack. Why? Because the disease came from within and the armor could not prevent it. Something that comes from within us is more difficult to deal with than something that comes from without.
Larry James, who has written quite a few books on ‘Relationships’ and gives seminars on the same, says, “Not forgiving another person is like taking poison and expecting them to die.” We expect them to suffer for what they have done to us when in reality it is we who will suffer.
Alexander Pope said: “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” And sometimes that’s what it takes. We have to get over our situation and circumstances and forgive someone. Larry James goes on to say, “Refusing to forgive by holding on to anger, resentment, or a sense of betrayal can make your own life miserable, because a vengeful mind creates bitterness and allows the betrayer to claim yet another victim.”
I always feel that bitterness is like rust. The strongest steel can be eaten away by rust and can weaken. That is what bitterness does to us, which comes from an unforgiving spirit.
Sometimes there are misconceptions that are associated with forgiveness.
The biggest misconception is that forgiveness means you accept what has happened to you. That is not true! In fact, we can only forgive what we know is wrong.
· Forgiveness does not also mean that you have to reconcile with someone who has treated you badly. Forgiveness is simply letting that person go.
· Another misconception is that it depends on whether the person who wronged you apologizes. But if someone else’s bad behavior becomes the main determinant of your feelings, then (think about it) the selfish and unpleasant people in your life will have power over you indefinitely. Forgiveness is the experience of finding inner peace and cannot be forced or stopped by another. And it should not be forced or stopped by another. So to forgive is to choose and say, “I will no longer be a victim.”
I remember someone talking about forgiveness and he gave me a very graphic view of it. I want to pass it to you. Imagine that you look at your life and the people who have hurt you, imagine that they have hooks and that those hooks are connected to them. And every time you look at someone you haven’t forgiven, it’s like a hook that gets hooked on you. And as you go through life, you walk around with all those hooks hanging over you. Think about the amount of weight you carry. Forgiveness, my friends, is about cutting those hooks so you can be free to walk your journey without all that excess baggage.
Forgiveness at work is how I got started. I was reading an article by Mariah Burton Nelson and she says, “Forgiveness does not rule out honest conversations in which the person confronts the offender. One can forgive and still set boundaries, expectations, and standards of performance and conduct. It doesn’t even rule out termination.” “One can forgive someone and still say goodbye. Forgiveness simply involves finding compassion for the offender. It requires remembering that all people have faults, weaknesses, insecurities, and anxieties. It results in freedom for the forgiver.”
So it all boils down to freedom for you, peace for you, the ability to do what you want without someone controlling you or having power over you.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” It takes strong people to forgive.
How do you forgive? What would the process be? I will summarize it for you very quickly.
1. Recognize the value of forgiveness and its importance in your life. I hope that by now, there has been something of value that has come from what I have given you. There is a need to forgive.
2. Reflect on the facts of the situation, how you have reacted, how this combination has affected your life, health and well-being. That is, “I’ve been hurt. Something bad has been done,” and accept it. It’s not trying to sweep everything under the rug and act like nothing happened.
3. Choose to forgive the person who has offended you. Remember, forgiveness is a choice.
4. Step away from your victim role and release the control and power that the aggressor person and situation have over your life. Don’t let them have more power over you. To forgive is to release them.
5. As you let go of grudges, you no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt and can be much freer.
In the Bible, Jesus had one of his close disciples, Peter, question him. “How many times must I forgive my brother?” that’s a question we like to ask because we want to know numbers. If I know it’s 7 times, then the eighth time I don’t need to forgive. Jesus turns to him and says: “Not seven times, but seventy times seven.” Which means – forget the numbers. You just have to keep forgiving because it increases the quality of your life.
Forgiveness is therapeutic. It is a good cleaning process. It is something that frees you to be who God intended you to be. It is letting go of all the excess baggage with which we do not need to walk through life. That is forgiveness. It’s about you. It’s about the choice you make to be a free person.
God bless you all.