When you realize that someone has been doing the best he or she knows how, it's easier to forgive that person. And understanding the spiritual power behind forgiveness can literally transform lives in ways we have not imagined possible. It can renew relationships and bring feelings of peace, no matter what injustice we may feel has been committed. You can even forgive yourself through this understanding.
Jesus Christ was actually able to forgive his killers, on the grounds that they did not know what they were doing (see Luke 23:33, 34).
In "Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures," which explains the law of God that enabled Jesus to express this forgiveness, Mary Baker Eddy wrote that "with one Father, even God, the whole family of man would be brethren; and with one Mind and that God, or good, the brotherhood of man would consist of Love and Truth, and have unity of Principle and spiritual power which constitute divine Science" (Pgs. 469-470). When we realize that we are all the sons and daughters of God, we know that all relationships between His children are established in Him - in Love, Truth, and Principle - and are therefore safe and secure.
We won't always find agreement in the arena of human opinions, where we're prone to the judgment and condemnation of others. But we can love each other more by understanding God better. "Where God is we can meet, and where God is we can never part" (Mary Baker Eddy, "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," Pg. 131). We meet where God is, where Love is. Whatever it is that people may have done, they may have been doing the very best they knew how to do at the time. Wouldn't you want them to "meet" you here - to allow the same loving assumption for you?
Before my marriage to my present husband, I had given birth to a child. I had believed that my relationship with the child's father would result in marriage. This, however, wasn't to be. At the time, the stigma attached to unwed mothers was very great. My parents felt I should put this child up for adoption, which I did.
I spent many years living in heartache and self-condemnation. Then a relative encouraged me to try locating my daughter. I had never thought this possible, but I did succeed in finding her, and was amazed to find out that she had also wanted to find me. The reunion was wonderful, and the relationship has continued now for six years, bringing our whole family much joy.
For a time I longed for the years I had missed knowing her and seeing her grow up. But the realization that we all had been doing the best we knew at the time enabled me to forgive my mother (who had insisted on the adoption), instantly freeing me from resenting her. It also freed me from condemning myself. My relationship with my mother became closer and more loving than it had ever been before. And in her own way, my daughter saw that we each had been doing our best, forgave both my parents and me, and wanted to forget the past and just enjoy all of us right now. Many reconciliations took place.
So, I know that forgiving others is important, and that it can be far-reaching, bringing happiness and healing. I have proved this on several other occasions, when expressing heartfelt forgiveness has immediately brought me freedom from otherwise judging and criticizing others. It is such a loving and benevolent feeling to discern those times when everyone is doing the best he or she knows. It helps us be more patient and tolerant.
In the Bible we are told to "be kindly affectioned one to another" (Romans 12:10). That also means to be charitable toward ourselves - to be as kind to ourselves as we would be to others.
If thou, Lord,
shouldest mark iniquities,
O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness
with thee, that thou mayest
be feared. I wait for the Lord,
my soul doth wait, and
in his word do I hope.