I like Tuesdays. I’ve never disliked Tuesdays but I like them more now. You see, Tuesdays are $5 movie days at our local theater. And since my daughter is gainfully employed she likes to take her dad on a date.
Even better, my daughter loves action movies. For years, I’ve submitted to a parade of romantic comedies and family movies with the occasional action flick. Don’t get me wrong. I like family and romantic comedy movies. But it’s fun to get my weekly adrenaline fix with my daughter.
One thing I notice is most action movies have little to do with forgiveness. Their story lines generally revolve around an incident where someone is wronged so the hero has to set things right. Ah, cold calculated justice. We love it. Sweet revenge? Supersize mine, please. And don’t forget the beat down.
In our society, we talk about the virtue of forgiveness. But when it happens on any large scale, we’re often baffled by it. Like when the Amish community forgave the man who stormed into a school in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania on October 2, 2006 shooting ten girls and killing five. Most of the nation couldn’t comprehend such an overwhelming act of forgiveness.
But movies about revenge and justice pack the house. Because we like to see people get what they deserve. I think most of us even imagine ourselves dishing out a little payback every once in a while.
The truth is vengeance is the easy, low, wide path. The harder, higher, more narrow path is forgiveness. Why? Because there’s no payback. You give something and get nothin’.
According to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, forgive is defined as:
- a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for <forgive an insult>
b : to grant relief from payment of <forgive a debt>
- : to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) : pardon <forgive one’s enemies>
Interestingly, the word forgive seems to have its origin before the 12th Century from the Old English forgifan: from for- + gifan to give. So the origin suggests the true intent of the word was to return to a state before what was done or given. Before-given. Kind of like time travel. You return to the time before the incident and act as if it never happened.
By definition, forgiveness requires us to “give up,” “to grant” and “to cease.” And our soul doesn’t like any of those options. Anyone for an alternate ending?
In our culture, losers give up, grant and cease. And we’re not losers. We’re winners. And winners, kick-ass and take names.
Time to clean house
On the other hand, forgiveness requires us to give up something that’s rightfully ours for the benefit of someone else. We release something so another person can receive it. By the look of most people’s garages, attics and basements we’re holding on to a lot of things that we should’ve let go of a long time ago.
It’s sad we live in a society where we build bigger houses rather than turn loose of things we no longer need so someone else can benefit from them. Why? Because we think we might need them some day.
But when (and if) that day actually comes, the thing we held onto is so old and dated it doesn’t even function properly. It’s rusted, ruined and incompatible with current standards. Meanwhile, it took up time, energy and space. Don’t fool yourself. Anything stored on a shelf has a maintenance cost as I’ve often been reminded by my CFOs.
So why not do a little house cleaning? Get rid of that excess emotional inventory that’s cluttering up your emotional storage shed and forgive someone. Give up, grant and cease to blame and be mad. Return your relationship to the state it was in “before the attitude or action was given.”
Leave justice and vengeance to the movies because true heroes forgive.
Looking for a way to help someone succeed today? Try forgiveness. It’s a win – win.