IT isn't always easy to forgive, especially if we're the ones who have been wronged. But haven't we all yearned to be forgiven when we're the ones needing forgiveness?

When we have been greatly wronged, we may feel we have every justification in the world to be angry, hurt, upset, unforgiving. Yet forgiveness is the only real way to keep such a wrong from interfering with our own spiritual progress. Forgiveness enables us to put aside rancor and go forward with our lives. The familiar adage "Forgive and forget reminds us of the practicality of forgiveness. And with genuine forgiveness comes the willingness to abandon the harsh words, the ugly scene, and along with them

any criticism, pride, self-justification, that would distort our responses.

But doesn't it often seem that this is easier said than done! Sometimes genuine forgiving can be a formidable task. But trying to appease our anger and hurt feelings by hiding them without actually forgiving never really heals. Offenses simply accumulate until an even greater rift occurs. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wisely writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: "Revenge is inadmissible. Wrath which is only appeased is not destroyed, but partially in dulged.

Destroying the hatred and anger is accomplished through humble, heartfelt prayer. Asking God to show us how to forgive awakens us to a broader understanding of God's love for man. Learning more of God as divine Love and of man as His image, reflecting divine Love, frees us from the restrictions of hatred.

We can look to God for patience, appreciation, equanimity, charity, inoffensiveness, and forgiveness, which we need in dealing with one another. Man reflects these qualities from God, his Maker. And because they have their source in God, man expresses them without measure.

As we see more clearly that man--our real selfhood--is truly spiritual, we begin to recognize that there's never a need to be offended. God embraces all His creation in His love. And we can look to God for the guidance that allows us to correct what needs correcting and forgive what needs forgiving.

Christ Jesus made strong demands on forgiveness. Matthew's Gospel records that when one of his disciples asked Jesus how many times he should forgive, he answered, "I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. Doesn't this imply that we shouldn't put limits on our willingness to forgive?

As prayer shows us more of our relationship to God as His beloved child, it is possible to put off the hurts we've experienced from the world's harshness. It's possible to forgive those who have injured us--and to be forgiven ourselves. Prayer nurtures our spiritual understanding and enables our actions to follow our sincere desires.

If we're looking to forgive or to be forgiven, we can turn to God for a clearer, more spiritual understanding of His eternal Fatherhood. He never lets man out of His sight. He's always there to help.

Forgiveness really takes just one. We don't have to wait for someone else to do something. When we're ready to put off revenge and stop appeasing anger--whether our own or otherswe're ready to experience the deep Christian forgiveness that truly erases an injury by healing it.

You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.

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