The Freeing Power of Forgiveness
We all have had to walk the painful journey of forgiveness but what it teaches us is always transforming. The two stories I’m about to share with you involves real people with real pain. When choosing the act of forgiveness they experienced a renewed sense of peace and freedom.
The first one is about an Auschwitz survivor who gives a letter of forgiveness to a Nazi doctor. What she thought was a meaningful gift was for her personally life changing. She discovered that she had “the power to forgive and no one could take that away from her. It was all hers to use any way she wished”.
This story is rather chilling and begins with a sequence of events that could turn any heart bitter and cold. Eva Mozes Kor recalls the horrors of being separated from her family when she and her twin sister are taken by the Nazi doctors to be experimented on during the holocaust. She recalls the inhuman brutal treatment she and her sister endured. It was only when she discovered years later that she could truly be free from all the hurt, pain and devastation of her experience in Auschwitz. This freedom came through the power to forgive those who had brutally mistreated her. She asks herself “what is it about forgiveness that she likes so much. It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation, and self-empowerment. Eva has a message that she wants people everywhere to know and that is, none of us can change what happened, that is the tragic part. But we can change how we relate to it.”
If you want to hear more about Eva’s story of forgiveness just click on the link below.
The other story was relayed to me during a phone conversation with my sister. She discovered that her simple acts of love and kindness were paving the way to release forgiveness and to heal a hurting heart. She shared with me how God is teaching her the power of love and forgiveness. What was once a very unpleasant and hurtful relationship is now being transformed into something sweet.
Here is my sister’s story in her own words:
My journey into forgiveness starts with God. He is love and he pursues us with love.
When I had first experienced the understanding of forgiveness, it was the gentle realization that I was the unmerciful servant. I thought that that was it. I had learned to forgive and that was all there was to learn about forgiveness, until I found myself needing to forgive someone who continually required my forgiveness, without even knowing it was required.
Then one day I realized that my unforgiveness had escalated to a point that I was unable to move on. I didn’t see this person very often, so it really didn’t affect my day to day living. But what I was learning more and more was that, it was really not about me. It was about them experiencing the love of God, and that God was using me as the instrument in the exchange of His love for them.
I knew the moment it happened that I had to forgive them but was not sure how. When it came to a point where I could no longer avoid them, God started to work in me in his gentle way because that is who He is. Out of this exchange of unconditional love, it provided them with dignity, honour and the ability to say I’m sorry. I learned that when we love, forgiveness is easily followed.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
(I Corinthians 13:4-9)
Some of the lessons I’ve learned from these two stories is that we all have been given the power to forgive and receive forgiveness. Also love is at the very core of forgiveness. They seem to go hand in hand. One cannot be fully expressed without the other.
Another important lesson we can all learn from these stories is that when we show God’s unconditional love it becomes a powerful force that can break down walls and open the flood gates of our hearts and the hearts of others to forgive and be forgiven. One simple act of kindness, showing patience, believing the best in others and seeing the good in them are just a few ways we can do this.
Forgiveness and love is a powerful healing and liberating force that changes everything. Have you experienced the freeing power of forgiveness?
What is your story and how do you understand forgiveness?