The Art of Forgiveness

By Victoria Ring

Is forgiveness an art? Yes. It takes a lot of time to discipline your character to actually forgive others. All of us have someone we don't like. Some of us may even have people we hate and want to see dead.

A friend of mine married a man who abused her mentally and physically. The only thing that got her out of this situation was when she gave birth to her daughter. The great love she had for her baby opened her eyes to realizing just how "sick" her husband was. When he began abusing the child, she loved her daughter so much that she risked her life to save her from a life of turmoil and left her husband.

Another lady I knew was brutally raped when she was still a virgin at 22 years of age. The rapist cut her so badly that she was left sterile for life and underwent years of mental therapy for this one incident alone.

There are many more stories I could relate to you of experiences I have lived through myself or with others, but you can understand why both these women "hate" the men who abused them. It's understandable and anybody would certainly feel sorry for them. How could either one of them forgive these men? It would be impossible, right? In fact, it would be sociably unacceptable to forgive them.

But the fact remains that these women must forgive these men. However, forgiving them does not mean they will form a friendship with the men who abused them or take them back into their world. Forgiveness just means that they would erase the "hate" within themselves and stop living a life of torment and pain.

I sympathize with a mom and dad who lose a child from a kidnapping, rape and murder. Personally, I would try and seek the person out and give them the same treatment they inflicted on my child. I would certainly want revenge! However, revenge and turmoil would eat at my soul. These emotions would engulf my daily life until I carried out my revenge.

Although understandable in these situations, these emotions are not good to have - especially for long periods of time. You'll eventually end up destroying your nerves, making life hard for loved ones around you and dying sad and miserable because you didn't get your revenge - or did you?

These examples may be extremes but they happen. How about the woman who cheats on her husband one time? The guy that borrowed $10 and never repaid it? The mother-in-law who called you a moron? The thief that turned out to be your brother? Should you carry around a grudge against them forever? Should you continually be looking for ways to "get back" at them and ruin your self-worth in the process?

Forgiving someone is NOT bowing down to them. We concentrate on blocking the individual's actions from our minds completely (and normally this requires help from God). If we forget about getting revenge and carrying around hate - we will establish peace within ourselves and not suffer the mental state inflicted upon us by seeking revenge and hate.

I knew a woman that married a man who turned out to be a gambler in the early 1920's. When the children were little she had to beg food and clothing from neighbors because he would gamble his paycheck away every week. Since welfare or job opportunities for women did not exist at the time, she chose to stay in this environment until her children were raised and grown.

Unfortunately though, she became a very bitter and hateful woman. She passed these feelings on to her children who passed them on to their children. This grandmother never trusted men again and spent her life never making a friend, never getting close to anyone and demanding that everyone around her be perfect and pity her for the great trials she had endured. In other words, because this women was not able to forgive and work on eliminating the memory from her life - she inflicted pain on countless members of the family.

So was all her hatred worthwhile? She died a very lonely old woman only comforted by a nurse at the hospital. And only a few people were sad to see her die. Others looked upon it as a "relief." What did she gain? Did her husband suffer? He sure did.

As he grew older he found that nobody really loved him or would be a friend to him unless he had money to gamble with. When he was left penniless, nobody was there to care about him. He died a lonely man and suffered greatly for the pain he had inflicted upon his wife. He saw his mistakes a little too late and suffered for many years in a hospital room before finally dying. And while he lay there in that hospital bed, waiting to die, he had all the time in the world to look back at his life and be faced with the memories of how hard he had made life for his wife and children. The past met him face-to-face but he was dying and could not go back and change things. He hated himself and felt grief over what he had done.

One time I was visiting a relative in a nursing home and kept hearing a lady down the hall screaming at the top of her lungs. The nurses would give her a shot to try and calm her down or make her sleep, because every time she was conscious, she would do nothing but scream. After a couple visits I became friends with one of the nurses. I asked her what was wrong with this lady and if she had a physical ailment. The nurse told me that the lady had been a prostitute and married a man, had two children, but left them when they were small to continue in her profession.

Since the husband was injured during the war he was unable to properly provide for them and one of the children died as a direct result of her leaving. Now that she was old, she finally realized the pain she inflicted unnecessarily on her husband and children and the true love she missed out on.

As she grew older she saw that none of the men she gave her body to really cared for her. They wouldn't even say "hello" to her on the street much less love her. The child that survived didn't want anything to do with her and her husband certainly didn't want her back. Now that she was old, she was unwanted, unloved and miserable. She continually screamed because the turmoil and a bad past had engulfed her soul. Two weeks later this old woman died.

So if you want revenge, try to work on blocking the actions of another person out of your mind completely so hate doesn't engulf you and those around you. With patience, you will see the person (who did you wrong) getting paid back for their sins. It's inevitable! Their own actions will cause them to miss the mark, fail at relationships and be torn up inside from turmoil, unrest and loneliness. And these things are much more detrimental than anything you could do to them - ever! Always remember that God is fair, but only in His own time!


This article was written by author, Victoria Ring. To contact Victoria personally, write to her at PO Box 09654, Columbus OH 43209-0654, or email or visit her website at

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