What is Forgiveness?

 

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As we go about our days and interact with others, we say and do things and encounter things that need our forgiveness or need us to ask forgiveness. I can tell someone that I forgive them but do I truly know what that means?

Forgiving someone is a choice that has many consequences. It means that I no longer am going to hold a grudge. I no longer need to think about the wrong. I can heal. I can allow the other person to heal as well. The sooner I offer forgiveness, the less hurt there is to heal. If I offer unforgiveness, I am stretching out the hurt that I feel as well as the hurt that others feel.

The Heart of the Amish: Lessons on Peacemaking and the Power of Forgiveness by Suzanne Woods Fisher recounts numerous stories of forgiveness. One such story is about a farmer who was building a fence on his land. He had just finished putting up the fence when his neighbor came and was extremely angry that the fence was only two feet away from his property. The farmer listened with calm patience. When the neighbor left the farmer removed the side of the fence closest to the neighbor’s property and repositioned it. That night as he returned home, the house had the wonderful smell of baking bread. The farmer asked his wife for a loaf and took it to his neighbor. Offering an olive branch.

Do we do the same when someone is angry with us? I must confess, I have never thought to do that. What would be the consequences if we went above and beyond what was expected of us in situations like this? Is is possible that we may find ourselves more at peace with others? Would we find that we could change our community by offering forgiveness and kindness to those who we feel have wronged us? These are all things to think about as you read this very moving book and allow God to work in your life through these stories.

I highly recommend this book if you are seeking to become more like Christ. The stories are powerful and thought provoking as you read about the journey others have taken with forgiveness.

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