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Clio's Temple

Seeking forgiveness

It must be hell to be one of those persons who can't ask for or accept forgiveness. I suspect we all know at least one such individual. What makes it particularly challenging is that folks who think this way very often wind up making yet more misery for themselves and everyone else around them.

A couple with whom my wife and I have been friends for several years lost their first child, an 18-month-old girl under particularly ugly circumstances. The little girl's nanny killed her, then committed suicide, thereby forever thwarting any hope of getting an answer to the question of "why?" The baby's paternal grandfather, a hard-nosed businessman, later came to believe that his granddaughter's death was some cosmic retribution for all the nasty things he'd done to others in his professional career. To the end of his life, no one could convince him of the fallacy in his thinking.

Dealing with life can make you crazy. I know this will come as a shock of some of you, but it's the truth. Trying to go through life without giving or receiving forgiveness is something I find inconceivable.

Lately, I've done a lot of wrestling with the harm inflicted by insensate evil, i.e., those dreadful things that happen to people who have done nothing to merit their suffering. Viktor Frankl dealt with this problem in Man's Search for Meaning. His conclusion was that we always have the freedom to choose our own responses to evil. To be sure, the evils of Nazism were hardly insensate. But in trying to deal with the capriciousness of mortal illness and other evils that truly are insensate, it ought to help us to remember that we can forgive even the unforgivable. Perhaps our human ability to do that can help us to preserve our sanity in the face of things that go dreadfully, irretrievably wrong.

Forgive someone who's hurt you today. Even if they don't accept it, you will be a different person for having done it.

2 Comments to Seeking forgiveness:

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Torie Amarie Dale on Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:11 AM
Steve this piece moved something in me. It's true, forgiveness is hard but it's needed. At first you may need to consciously choose to do it once or several times a day, but as you move through it you will find it will become easier. One thing to remember is that forgiving the offender is about you helping yourself not you helping them. I need to say that this piece, while short, packs a punch to the reader and is both intelligent and thoughtful. Thank you for that, my friend.
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Steve Gordy on Thursday, May 15, 2014 2:10 PM
Torie, as the days of my life grow shorter, I've come to the realization that I don't want to have my soul hollowed out by carrying around a load of anger over past wrongs.
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