Let bygones be bygones. Forgive and forget. It always sounds easier said than done. Depending on one’s perception of the offence or hurt, one may feel that it’s impossible to forgive. But to be true, forgiving others has tremendous benefits — physical, emotional, social and moral.
It pays more to forgive than it costs to hate. Forgiveness puts the smile back on your lips and happiness into your heart. Put differently, the one who opens the doors of forgiveness soon enters the house of happiness! Forgiveness releases you from the punishment of a self-made prison where you are both the inmate and the jailer. Hating others or yourself is not an aid to leading a happy life. Hate produces more hate never happiness. Hatred is the cancer of the soul. No one is so powerful as to be able to hate others without suffocating one’s own happiness and stifling one’s own personal growth.
Forgiveness soothes the heart and cools the sting. “He misbehaved with me!”, “He has done me a grave injustice!”, “She ditched me!” and the like are some of the common wrenches after specific tragic incidents in life. They make us boil from within and snatch away our happiness. There are certainly times when we cringe — for taking revenge. Hatred misguides us and blinds us. Instead of focusing on our goals in life, we begin to focus on our enemy’s destruction. As a result, we move away from our goals and from our happiness.
When you forgive others, you are not forgiving them for their sake. You’re doing it for yourself — for it pays more to forgive than it costs to hate. Forgiveness can be one of the toughest teachings to live up to. Forgiveness requires an extraordinary struggle against the bruised ego. The greater the hurt, the more difficult it is to forgive. Finally though, there is nothing like forgiveness that can set a person free and put a mind at rest.
Forgiveness is an opportunity to adorn our souls with Godliness. And, the more difficult it is to forgive, the greater and more beautiful the adornment. As such, one of the motivations to forgive is to draw closer to God’s attributes.
Forgiveness should be seen as an opportunity — a chance at experiencing and achieving a nearness to God. Navigating the labyrinths of the various levels of forgiveness gracefully is itself a creative and ecstatic act. This is why the Quran describes those who are deeply aware of God as, “When they are angered, they forgive,” (Q42:37) and, “When they are prompted by the ignorant, they respond with words of peace,” (Q25:63). There is a repeated emphasis on being gentle toward others. This teaching is reflected in what is referred to as the foundational Prophetic teaching — meaning that the first saying attributed to the Prophet that a teacher imparts to his or her student — which states: “Show mercy towards those on earth and the One above the heavens will show mercy towards you.”
We may be reluctant to join hands with forgiveness because we lack the knowhow — the tools of forgiveness. Or at some level, we may misunderstand forgiveness and decide it is not appropriate for us or that we are not ready. But when we understand that we are all wrapped in love through God’s mystic web, forgiveness becomes a real possibility. The kind of forgiveness that that emanates from this realisation has the power to heal and comfort profoundly, uplifting the atmosphere of human thought with God’s healing love.