Tuesday, April 13

Forgiveness is a feeling of freedom


EASTER is arguably the most significant day on the calendar. Christians cannot help but celebrate that, we receive forgiveness for our sins. We live in a time when few know much about forgiveness because more and more people are making excuses for their wrongdoing, refusing even to admit that they had made mistakes and sin. If they do something wrong, it’s blamed on someone else or on the situation. As citizen of the universe more than ever, we need to share and demonstrate common sense about forgiveness.

Many times I risk missing the profound nature of forgiveness. Either it’s all too familiar, or I’m too unhinged in the rat society. So Easter comes and goes, and I realize too late that I lost another opportunity to really understand the meaning of forgiveness. And it dawned on me that it’s a perfect time to show people that by practicing sacrificial love and radical forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not tolerate wrongdoing. Many of us have become too easy on sin – and on sinners. Tolerating sin is itself a sin. If we truly concern about people and their humanly worth, we need to care about whether they’re living according to loving thy neighbour. This attitude should make us helpful, not judgmental.

When we had a brainstorming conversation, maybe over tea Tarik at the Mamak stall, to come up with some ideas like providing food or clothes or shoes to people you know who can’t afford those essentials. Maybe it’s giving our bicycle or even our car to someone who needs transportation. We could open a generous savings account for a new addition to someone’s family. Or we might buy a ticket for a friend who can’t afford the airfare to go see a loved one.

Instead of giving something, maybe you give by loving your neighbour as yourself. We all have neighbours who need help. Perhaps it’s respite from caring for an older parent.

Forgive and forget? Forgiveness and forgetting don’t necessarily happen together. Forgetting should never be a test of whether a person has forgiven. The miracle of forgiveness is that, you can forgive even while you still remember.

Forgiveness should not be conditional. Our forgiveness is not conditional on whether we forgive others. If it were, we would never be forgiven. Our forgiveness is acceptance – without any exception.

The forgiveness we received may be costly; Christians believe it cost Jesus His life. To ask for forgiveness, or to grant it, is often difficult. It’s more than just saying I’m sorry, or I forgive you. It means giving up the hatred and acrimoniousness that sometimes, sadly, one may even enjoy harbouring. It’s hard because it doesn’t always fit into the judicial way of thinking; indeed forgiveness doesn’t always seem fair.

Forgiveness is a present event. Time heals all wounds too often encourages a lengthy process that may even add more resentments and bitterness over time. I was advised by my elders not to delay in forgiving someone. Make forgiveness a lifestyle. It is something that is here and now – not for tomorrow, but for today.

And what about radical forgiveness? By definition it has to be out of the ordinary. What could radical forgiveness look like? Many of us carry seeds of forgiveness that have been growing for too long.

A colleague wrongly accused and belittled you and you can’t quite let it go. A friend borrowed some money years ago and never repaid that debt. You suffered a grievous violation at the hands of a trusted friend and the anger still burns inside you. Maybe now you’re finally able to stop the negative impact of the offences against you and begin the healing by choosing radical forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a feeling of freedom. There is nothing more free than when someone told you let by gone be bygone or “sudah sudah lah”. Equally freeing is when you can forgive others immediately. Forgiveness is an act of the will. If you will supply the desire to forgive others, karma will supply the emotional freedom.