despite such an egregious recent tragedy, this Charleston church community is providing an example of what America could be, what every American Christian, Catholic, Jew, Muslim, and Buddhist, etc. could stand for. Are we up to the task?
For me, truth lies in the faith of forgiveness, and when I surrender to this "faith of forgiveness," a newfound freedom enters my life. I don't believe that forgiveness is a one-time act, but rather an unfolding process.
The month and days preceding the Jewish High Holidays are when we do what is called a heshbon nefesh: an accounting of the soul. We talk to the folks we may have had challenges with in the past year and we strive to make amends -- to ask for forgiveness.
For four years I spent my days reading about the value of forgiveness. But it wasn't until I switched careers to teach in a high-need middle school that I came to understand at a visceral level just how precious and essential forgiveness is, and how it miraculously plays out in daily life.
You are the only person with the power to control yourself. Being you is more than just your favorite color or your favorite food, it's about becoming the person you are capable of being. Creating the real you can be a life-long journey.
I cannot even imagine how to process the phone call informing you your child is dead. How does the brain take that kind of attack? According to Maria and George Gough, the only way they could live with themselves was to forgive their son's killer in the middle of the trial.
These studies show us the cost of not forgiving others can be physically taxing on us. It seems like the world appeared more daunting to our participants who had recalled an incident where they had not forgiven their perpetrator.
While research indicates that training in forgiveness can actually bring about improvements in both well-being and health, actually forgiving can be easier said than done. If forgiveness is something you want to practice, try one of these strategies.
Although forgiving someone (or ourselves) can happen in an instant, my experience is that it is usually a much more lengthy process requiring great patience, trust, persistence and prayer -- more like peeling an onion or a lotus blossoming than a lightning bolt.