Forgiveness

Since I'm in prison ministry, I sometimes listen to the victims of crimes.  They tell heart wrenching stories of being hurt.  They find it hard to forgive.  I mostly just listen.  I figure it's the Holy Spirit that has the job of changing hearts.  I feel very deeply for them, because they go over and over the past.  The perpetrator of the crime committed against them is in prison.  They're not.  Yet, their anger, hurt, and that very unforgiveness has put them in a prison, too.  And in not forgiving, they're not moving on.  They're keeping themselves in prison.

And it's not only crime that does this.  I was reminded of this, when I read a young person's poem about the girl who left him.  He is angry, hurt, and wishes to get revenge.  Every time I see him, I listen to him lament his lost girl.  He's still in his self inflicted prison.

How does one change this perspective?  After the period of shock, and grief, one needs to look after one's own best interests.  Counseling can help.  Spiritual direction can help.  And asking oneself, how important is it to hold onto this pain, hurt, anger, and unforgiveness?  Over time, I pray, that all people hurting, realize that for their own well being, they need to forgive.

Nelson Mandella said it best, "There is no future, without forgiveness."

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