The power of forgiveness

July 24, 2007 | 6 comments

I was reminded today of a story that illustrates one of the most powerful ways to conquer one’s enemies. Love the hate right out of them…

This is a true account.

A woman sat silently in the courtroom until the verdict, three years in prison, was reached for the 14 year gangster who had murdered her son. After the sentencing, she stood up and vowed to the teenager, “I’m going to kill you.”

After 6 months in prison, the mother began to visit the boy. She was his first and only visitor. She came more often, bringing food and gifts.

On the day he was released, the mother asked him what he would be doing when he got out. The boy had no place to go. She offered him a job and a room in her home. He accepted.

After 8 months of living with her, eating her food and going to his job, the mother called him into a room to talk. She asked him if he remembered her threat to kill him. He nodded his head.

She went on to explain that she had accomplished her goal.

She said that at the end of the trial she vowed that the boy who had killed her son would not remain alive on this earth any longer. So she started to visit him and befriend him. She wanted the old gangster to die. Now, after many months, she figured she had reached her goal. Love had transformed the lad. He was a new man.

Then she asked to adopt him. And he accepted.

She became the mother he never had.

The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace, by Jack Kornfield.

6 thoughts on “The power of forgiveness”

  1. This is such a difficult concept and the story so implausable.
    There have been similar stories where the outcome has not come out so good.
    My question is this: where it the line between acts of forgiveness and being a doormat? I have known people who acted kindly in the name of forgivenness only to see them being abused and used. They believe they are forgiving and doing the right thing while I see it as sad stupidity.

  2. I reckon that story is awesome! For someone to be able to forgive something that awful, they must have known they had a whole lot of Love right there with them.
    I think there is a huge difference between forgiveness in a limited human sense, and forgiveness with an understanding of the vastness of divine Love behind it. Forgiveness from a purely human standpoint can leave us open to being used and abused. Forgiveness with the might and power of Love behind it gives us protection from hatred.
    The only way that hate can affect us is if we give it power in our own thought. Forgiveness takes that power away and leaves us free to express our inherent goodness – shielded by Love.
    Whether they know it or not, anyone who tries to forgive already has the might of Love right beside them to keep their integrity and uprightness intact – and to protect them from harm. We can actively help those trying to forgive by knowing they have this Love with them – to protect them.

    Trying to forgive is not always easy, but it can’t be stupid or sad.

    If we never tried to forgive – now that would be sad stupidity.

  3. This kind or forgiving which returns only a genuine loving sense about the offender really is healing for the one doing the loving. It really isn’t important if the hurtful one changes or not. It is wonderful if that happens and it shows a receptivity there. But the returning of genuine love is so good for the one who has been wronged.
    In my workplace I was in a situation where two colleagues were intentionally not including me in our team collaborations. I am sure they believed I had done something that offended them. For the life of me I had no clue. The freeze went on for months. I really worked at loving them but kept my distance. Then an opportunity came for me to reach out. At this point I wasn’t even thinking about doing something loving on purpose. I just wanted them to succeed on a big project they were doing. I offered a piece of equipment that I had in my basement, and I loaded it up and carried to their project at work. It made me feel so good. But even better, they just melted. They were so appreciative and from that point on the wall came down. We have become a very cooperative team since then. I was so grateful for the genuine love I had in my heart during that period.
    What if they had not responded so positively? I was already okay about them and it didn’t matter, in fact their positive reaction actually surprised me. I believe everyone feels sincerity and is attracted to it. “At all times and under all circumstances overcome evil with good, and God will supply the wisdom and the occasion for a victory over evil.” ( S&H)

  4. To above…

    Also, I think it helps to understand that forgiveness is not forgiveness of an evil. All evil is wrong and must cease. Forgiveness is to give room and space for redemption. It’s also for ourselves. If we cannot forgive, we are likely harboring resentment and evil in our own thought, and that is self-destructive. We have to forgive for self-preservation, among other reasons.

    But, back to forgiving criminals, again, the crime is not forgiven. The crime has to be rectified. All sin brings penalty, and the criminal pays the penalty. But the “real” criminal is not so much a person as the evil attitude that influenced the person to commit the crime. If there is any hope for this world, it comes from knowing that people can be freed from their crimes and be able to live honest lives. Forgiveness allows that to happen and facilitates reformation.

    True forgiveness is also, “Wiser than serpents,” as Jesus admonished.

    Forgiveness is not naivete or ignorance. Forgiveness, animated by true Love, is wise and discerning. It does not turn its back to a murderer with knife in hand, but faces the murderous thought with Truth and Love to the destruction of the evil intent.

    Forgivness, done right, is power and protection.

    Forgiveness is Love in action.

  5. “They believe they are forgiving and doing the right thing while I see it as sad stupidity.”

    Love is neither sad nor stupid. Love, with a capital L — that is, divine Love, God, not the capricious human emotion we often refer to as “love” — is synonymous with divine Mind, all-intelligence, which isn’t (and never can be!) sad or stupid

    Wrestling with some chronic illnesses a few years ago, I saw my decision to come back to Science as a very simple choice:

    Do I want to wallow in error and bitterness, accepting and making myself subject to the whims of mortal mind, or do I want to heal? The answer was obvious, and the outcome was healing.

    Listening earnestly for Love’s direction, I trust God to lead me “in the paths of righteousness,” where I “fear no evil” and am free to work wisely, effectively, and in ways that always bless, even if they don’t always make sense to mortal mind.

    God does not lead us into danger. He leads us out of it. Every day is filled with opportunities to witness the power of forgiveness to heal and to bless.

    Whether that involves something as small as flashing a peace sign instead of a bird at the guy who cut you off in traffic or as big as forgiving and helping the misguided teenager who killed your loved one, the principle is the same, and the outcome can only be good.

    Practice on the small stuff first. Then when something big comes along, you’ll be in the habit of forgiving and won’t find the concept quite so intimidating.

  6. 21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?

    22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (matthew 18

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