Forgiveness Can Mean Freedom

When people have deceived or manipulated us, it’s difficult to forgive them.

I’ve worked for some terrific bosses over the years. One of them is Jim Grey, whose luck with his own bosses hasn’t been quite as good as mine.

Jim recently ran into a bad one, and he’s now wrestling with how to forgive.

Yes, yes, the Bible says we should forgive not just once, but seventy times seven. That doesn’t make it easy.

But we do need to forgive. Not just because the Bible said so, or for any cosmic reasons, but for our own sake.

As long as we hold onto our anger, we chain ourselves to the past. We can’t move forward. We can’t be happy. We can’t be at peace.

And even though we’re making ourselves suffer, our anger does no harm at all to the people who wronged us.

Just like Jim, I’ve had a few bad bosses. And if they stepped in front of my car on the highway, I might hesitate for a split-second before I braked. But I would brake, for three important reasons.

First, if I hit them, I’d get points on my driver license. My insurance rates would go up, and I’ve got a spotless driving record that I don’t want to blemish.

Second, if I decided to get even with everyone who’d ever taken a dump on my head, I wouldn’t have time to do anything else. I want to devote my time to positive goals.

Third, for some of them, just being the people they are is a worse punishment than anything I could do to them.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we have to feel warmly toward life’s malefactors — only that we can’t free ourselves from them unless we forgive them.

Unless we forgive them, they will be our life-long companions. And we deserve a better class of friends.

Check out my book Why Sane People Believe Crazy Things: How Belief Can Help or Hurt Social Peace. Kirkus Reviews called it an “impressively nuanced analysis.”

About N.S. Palmer

N.S. Palmer is an American mathematician.
This entry was posted in Bible, Human Relations, Life, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Forgiveness Can Mean Freedom

  1. Jim Grey says:

    A lovely perspective, and thank you for the link back!


  2. J P says:

    You are absolutely right. I have known a couple of people in my life who seem to lack the ability to forgive, and holding onto the kinds of things that should be moved beyond has not been good for them.


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