Being able to forgive

A GRUDGE is a pretty heavy burden to carry. I know. I've carried a lot of them. It didn't matter to me whether the hurts were real or imagined, I deposited them into my ``grudge bank'' and saved them up. True, I had heard of forgiveness, and it sounded like a good thing. But I never seemed to be able to make it work. I felt that I lacked something I needed in order to forgive. Then I discovered what it takes to forgive, and it's really quite simple. My discovery came in an unexpected way.

My life had become a torment -- physically and emotionally -- and I didn't know why or what to do about it. The state of my health was alarming, and feelings of desperation and resignation waged constant battle in my mind. After several months of this mental chaos and physical decline, I discovered in the public library a book that proved to be my lifeline and is now my constant guide. The book is called Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and was written by Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.

I had never heard of the book or its author but was drawn to its ideas like a flower to the sunlight. As I began to read, I received such an enlightening and logical explanation of God and of man as His spiritual likeness that the misconceptions of a sinning, mortal selfhood quickly began to fall away. I knew I was forgiven and felt it with my whole being.

This unprecedented feeling of being innocent and loved was based on what was, to me, this amazing revelation in the first chapter of Genesis: ``God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him.''1 I saw that God's spiritual image was who I really am. The understanding of His perfection and goodness touched my thought in the form of mercy and forgiveness. I felt clean and new. Decades of guilt that had clung tightly to me just fell away.

As I continued in my study of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health, together with the Bible, I strove to walk in the footsteps of the Master, Christ Jesus. This striving resulted in an experience that led to an even deeper understanding of love and forgiveness.

One day I found that most of my body was covered with a rash, and I was quite uncomfortable. That night upon retiring, I prayed to see more of the truth of God's creation, to understand more about man's pure, sinless selfhood. I affirmed God's power and presence and waited for His clear, healing message, which I had come to know as the incorporeal Christ. The definition of Christ in Science and Health reads: ``The divine manifestation of God, which comes to the flesh to destroy incarnate error.''2

I determined that I would not fall asleep in the hope of escaping the discomfort but instead would listen for the healing inspiration that I needed.

At that point, in my mind's eye I saw a long line of people coming to me -- some I recognized and some I didn't -- asking me to forgive them. And I did! With joy I forgave them all. Gratitude for this healing love overwhelmed me. Then I saw why I was able to forgive. It became clear to me that in truth they were God's children, and that as reflections of God, divine Love, they had never been given the ability to hurt me. As it says in I John 3:2, ``Now are we the sons of God.'' I found the next morning that the rash had vanished. Its basis was just as false as my distorted view of man had been.

It has been some years since I first witnessed the healing power of love and forgiveness, and having witnessed it once doesn't mean I've never been called upon to forgive again. On the contrary, there have been plenty of opportunities to exercise what I now see as the ability to bear witness to the perfect, sinless man of God's creating. An opportunity to forgive is really just an opportunity to draw closer to God, perfect Love.

1Genesis 1:27. 2Science and Health, p. 583.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

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