Caught by surprise by his comment, I said, "You're kidding me?"
"No," replied Ken. "We had an argument over a piece of property and have been estranged from each other."
Bill said, "Ken, you haven't met my children."
Then Bill introduced his children to their uncle. I left the hospice unit thinking, there's something wrong when we can't forgive. Life is short and it's difficult to make up for all the time that has been lost.
This experience caused me to think the power of forgiveness and the need for it in our lives. Sure, when someone says something or does something to cause us harm, it hurts. But we need to move beyond the hurt, to healing, which comes from forgiveness.
I like to think of forgiveness as the bold choice we make to clear out of our lives resentment, bitterness, anger, hatred, and revenge. We need to ask ourselves, "Do I want to waste precious time and energy carrying around these nasty feelings?"
It's the unfinished business we may have with a spouse, parent, child, brother or sister, or friend which we need to take care of before it's too late. Holding on to the past only weakens the relationship and keeps us from mending it and putting it back together.
When we refuse to forgive, the other person owns us. Often forgiveness is not for the other person, it's for us-to let it go and begin again.
I told him, "You have unfinished business with your father. Go and tell him."
"He's dead," Charlie said, "How can I?"
I said, "Get in your car and go to the cemetery and tell him how angry you are with him." He left me looking confused.
Two weeks later, Charlie came and told me, "I feel better. I drove to the cemetery and stood over his grave and dumped my angry. Then I closed my eyes and said to myself what I felt my dad would say. Wow, I never realized how much energy keeping all that anger inside can do to a person."
I agreed and applauded Charlie for what he did.
Forgiveness brings healing, freedom, and peace back into our lives. It opens our eyes to see what happened. It calls us to break down the walls, stop the silent treatment and put an end to the cold war. One day, the roles of wronged and wrongdoer may be reversed.
Use today as an opportunity to open a door that has been closed too long. Forgive. Let it go. Put it behind you and see how much better you will feel.
Give it try. It works.