You know that feeling of being hurt? That kicked in the stomach, gut-wrenching feeling that comes when we have been wronged? I do. And I am sure you do. To be human is to be hurt by someone, maybe even someone very close to us. It means that someday and somehow we will all be betrayed, thrown under the bus, used, disregarded. To be human is to experience these things to a degree. To be human is to do these things to a degree . . .
But being human isn't all about being on the receiving end of the pain or making hurtful decisions. Being human also gives us a singular opportunity which differentiates homo sapiens from the rest of the animal kingdom--the opportunity to forgive. This ability we have to overcome our behaviorally conditioned stimulus, to drop the unjust burdens that others may have strapped to our backs is miraculous. It is a miracle that will help preserve our own individual hope, and our relationships with others. And our future as a species, as a society is tied up in each other, and in our choice to forgive.
Enter The Forgiveness Project. This inspiring website is a collection of true stories of strong people who have suffered in one form or another and worked through the forgiveness process. Here is an introduction to the website from the remarkable Desmond Tutu:
Eva Kor was a Polish ten year old when she and her twin were taken from their family and subjected to medical experimentation at the hands of Nazi Dr. Mengele in Auschwitz. Her words, highlighted on this The Forgiveness Project here are so powerful to me:
"I believe with every fiber of my being that every human being has the right to live without the pain of the past. For most people there is a big obstacle to forgiveness because society expects revenge.
Forgiveness is really nothing more than an act of self-healing and self-empowerment. I call it a miracle medicine. It is free, it works and has no side effects."
One of my favorite stories of forgiveness comes from the life of Victoria Ruvolo, a woman whose life was changed by a senseless teen prank involving a stolen frozen turkey, a freeway overpass and her car windshield. Read her story here.
If you have ever been hurt, you may want to peruse the raw and redeeming true stories of people featured here. It may speak to you the way that it did to me. I went away from this website committing in my heart that I would choose forgiveness. In the petty, and even in the pernicious acts against us, will we choose forgiveness? Let's. Let's try. Forgiving ourselves, forgiving others as we are courageously able, will only raise the good in our own lives and in our world.
Community Question: Do you have a favorite story of forgiveness? Or your own story of forgiveness?
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