Forgive Others to Enjoy a Happier, Better Life
When St Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive a person who wronged him, our Lord replied: not seven but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Our Lord goes on to tell the parable of the ungrateful servant, who sent a fellow servant to jail over a small, unpaid debt even though his master had earlier cancelled his much larger debt. That servant was later punished for failing to show the mercy that had been bestowed on him. (Matthew 18:23-25)
Jesus is essentially telling us that there should be no limit to forgiveness, and that we must forgive others if we expect our own sins to be forgiven.
The first step to forgiving others involves overcoming our hurt and anger, which is more easily said than done.
Here are a few things we can try:
- Remember the old advice about counting to 10 when you are angry? When I’m faced with such situations, I usually take a deep breath then walk away to cool down. If I am at home, I will probably go for a run.
A cooling-off period is very important as it gives us time to think through what happened, and not say or do something that we might later regret.
- View the situation from the other person’s perspective. Often, problems can be resolved if we try and understand where the other person is coming from.
- Break the ice and start communicating. Staying apart and giving each other the cold shoulder will not solve anything.
- Finally, and most importantly, pray to our Lord for guidance and strength. Forgiveness is a fundamental teaching of our Christian faith and a key section of the Lord’s Prayer involves asking our Father to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Peace of Mind
Anger can be like a poison that weakens our bodies and disrupts our peace of mind.
I have, sadly, seen couples divorce over what began as relatively small squabbles and misunderstandings. Instead of forgiving one another, they allowed the anger to build until they eventually stopped talking to one another. There were no third parties involved.
To quote Nelson Mandela,
“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
The ability to forgive is critical for any healthy and loving relationship as it dissipates the anger and allows peace and joy enter our hearts.
As St Augustine said,
“Forgiveness is what happens when we surrender our natural desire for revenge.” (Catholic Exchange March 2014)
Do Something Today
If you are holding onto grudges or are still angry with your spouse, parent or colleague, you must let go and start the process of reconciliation.
In his letter to the Ephesians, St Paul gave the following instructions,
“All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:31-32
Only when we reach out to those who hurt us in love and forgiveness, can we then be released from anger and receive the healing we need!
Article by Vivian Chung
OLPS Communications Ministry
Disclaimer: The views and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the priests of the parish or the Catholic Church of Singapore.