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Why Forgive?

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04/01/2009 - Why Forgive?

By Jason Poot

Now that we have a brief definition of what forgiveness is, and what it entails, lets work on the question, "Why forgive?"

One of the more inspiring stories I have heard on the topic of forgiveness was through a dramatic affair which was plastered all over the media. Many remember the horrific shooting that took place at West Nickel Mines School, a small, one room Amish school in 2006. After the incident which injured and killed multiple children, the Amish community responded with forgiveness. What good did it do?

Through their willingness to forgive, the Amish have discovered a way to live a productive life in spite of their tragedy. The victimization ended after the shooting. Even though the killer ended the lives of innocent children, his damage ended there. Because the families were able to forgive him, he was not able to take their lives as well.

Forgiving the killer also aided in the healing of an oft unnoticed group of victims who were not at that school. The killer's family. Members of the Amish community reached out to the killer's family in love. Some attended his funeral, and many others befriended and consoled those who loved this man. In an open letter to the Amish community, the killer's wife wrote, "Your love for our family has helped to provide the healing we so desperately need. Gifts you've given have touched our hearts in a way no words can describe. Your compassion has reached beyond our family, beyond our community, and is changing our world, and for this we sincerely thank you."

The following analogy is from Kent Crockett, a pastor in Kansas and author of the book 911 Handbook for Christians. It emphasizes the personal benefit of forgiving others. He states that in our hearts we have a dungeon. This dungeon is where we have shackled those who have wronged us. When we think of them, we enter this dungeon and beat them mercilessly. Strangely, we never feel any better afterwards. Forgiveness is like entering that dungeon and deciding to unlock the shackles and allow this person to go. Upon release, as the person turns to face us, we realize that it is ourselves we have kept chained and applied the beatings. The point is, when we are unwilling to forgive, we are the only person who suffers. The person who wronged us continues to live his/her life unaffected by our continued anger.

No avenue has more need for forgiveness than in a marriage. An intimate relationship requires incredible emotional vulnerability. Being vulnerable leaves a person at high risk for hurt, and often this hurt can be intensified given the nature of the relationship. Forgiveness surrenders the anger and can reunite a relationship. Without forgiveness, even if people change, anger and resentment cannot be overcome and relationships are broken. With forgiveness, the most heinous of crimes can cease to victimize. Next we will focus on some techniques which may help you work towards the forgiveness.

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