I have experienced forgiving others, with God’s grace.
What makes forgiving others possible, for me, is to know that to forgive is an extension of ALL that has been given to me. That doesn’t mean that I am good about either apologizing or forgiving.
Forgiveness, from either side of the equation, is so hard, and so necessary.
Forgiveness is a freedom we all deserve. No matter how great the crime against humanity, I read over and over that to not forgive holds the victim hostage, not the captor.
Hubert Moes’s story of finally, as a Dutch-American survivor of Japanese concentration camps in Indonesia, to forgive, astonishes me. Like my father he was sent as a “man,” but still a child, to WWII Japanese labor camps.
My own issues with apologies and forgiveness are so small, when compared to Moes’, a man who witnessed death of other children and adults daily.
One of the people I thought I would never forgive was my own papa. He could be a yeller, a worrier and a nitpicker. I remember him saying to me when I was in elementary school, “Why is this A not an A+?”
He did not say he was sorry when he lost his temper, criticized or controlled too much, though we could all see he had regrets.
I grew up, as my husband has often noted, to not apologize either.
Along with the not apologizing, I also do not forgive well.
Yet, it was easy to forgive Papa one day a decade ago. We were driving around Houston and he said to me, “I’m sorry I was so hard on you when you were young, and expected so much from you. I’m sorry you felt so pressured.”
The simplest words came to me, “That’s okay. I turned out alright. I love you.” I knew that Pappie had been raised with high expectations too. I saw one of his childhood letters to his Oma and Opa (grandparents) in Holland, which said over and over again, what his grade was in every subject in elementary school. I remember holding that letter in my hands, one sunny afternoon in my aunt and uncle’s home in the Netherlands in the 1970’s. Oh, I thought, oh. I guess forgiveness often is planted with the first seeds of understanding. And certainly, that one time of easy forgiveness to my Papa, was because he was always so loving too.
He survived so much, waited so long to fully forgive. How could he?
How could he not? He deserved to forgive.
Like my pappie (Dad) he found some healing in a friendship with a Japanese-American friend. For pap, his time in the ocean was even more healing than time with friends. My sister, called a portion of Pappie’s memorial DVD “Rescued at Sea.” How true. His dropped a wreath of commemoration overboard while on a Holland America world cruise near Java (one of the Indonesian island) in the 1980’s. Another healing time for him.
When have you forgiven? How did you come to forgive? Have you been “rescued at sea,” in the desert, or in other places full of natural glory?
Go ahead and read this article by Hillary Bowler in the Salt Lake City Desaret News.