The healing power of true forgiveness
WHEN I sent away for a part for my antique car, the company sent back the wrong one. After telephoning about it, I was assured that the part would be picked up and the right one sent. Weeks passed by with no action. I called again, but it was only a replay of the same story. I even thought of sending a telegram about the stalemate to the president of the company. Many of us may have had similar situations to deal with. We can become resentful, as I did. But there is another route to take, and the one I finally chose: the healing way of forgiving prayer. Christ Jesus taught his followers to pray, ``And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.'' 1
As I prayed, I realized that during all those weeks I had never thought once of forgiveness. I had been too busy mentally rehearsing the company's incompetence and trying to find a human solution. But now I was concerned with spiritual growth through a purification of motives and attitudes.
How could I truly forgive? First, I needed to see the error of mismanagement and laxity as impersonal; no part of employer or employee. I began to recognize God, divine Principle, to be in complete control of everything that takes place for the production and extension of good. All things small and great illustrate the divine design.
Didn't this business and I, together, have the same objective: to meet a human need? Actually, this enterprise was a way of blessing others, and as such deserved the prayer of Christian, right thinking in support of its service to others. The blundering holdup was not an element of its true purpose and character.
It was a much-changed customer who called the next time. I wasn't even tempted to grumble. I now saw the encounter as an opportunity to forgive and to heal (myself) through seeing my fellow being as I would want him to see me -- loving, patient, useful. The prophet Malachi asked discerningly, ``Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?'' 2
My telephone contact was gracious and apologetic. She emphasized, ``If you have any further trouble, please let me know.'' This time I knew the package would be picked up, and it was. Although the company did not have the correct part in stock, they searched until they found it, and then promptly sent it to me. The peace and assurance that I felt didn't come primarily from an adjustment in circumstances, but were the result of lifting thought to a higher level of spiritually based humility and unselfed love.
In an article titled ``Love Your Enemies'' the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ``The Hebrew law with its `Thou shalt not,' its demand and sentence, can only be fulfilled through the gospel's benediction. Then, `Blessed are ye,' insomuch as the consciousness of good, grace, and peace, comes through affliction rightly understood, as sanctified by the purification it brings to the flesh, -- to pride, self-ignorance, self-will, self-love, self-justification. Sweet, indeed, are these uses of His rod!'' 3
True forgiveness dissolves self-centered thinking, fired by self-interest. To forgive divinely is to discern the spiritual solution to conflict, to realize the ever-presence of good where the trying circumstance seems to be. A hymn gives us this prayer: Keep us from our own undoing, Help us turn to Thee when tried, Still our strength in Thee renewing, Keep us ever at Thy side.4
Turning to ``Thee'' instead of to ``me'' for wisdom and guidance brings the healing that frees everyone concerned. Purification of thought washes away a frustrated, personal sense of people and events.
Man, as the offspring of God -- and this is our true being -- doesn't live in a material world of mistakes. He lives in a God-ordered universe regulated by the laws of divine Love. Love tenderly cares for you and me in the divine design. 1 Matthew 6:12. 2 Malachi 2:10. 3 Miscellaneous Writings, pp. 8-9. 4 Christian Science Hymnal, No. 115.