Sunday, July 09, 2006

The High Cost Of Unforgiveness

Unforgiveness has a high cost to both heart and soul. Few know this as well as Rev. Julie Nicholson, a Vicar in The Church Of England over in London. One year ago her daughter, Jenny, who was only 24 years old was one of those killed in the London terrorist bombings in a Subway attack.

With those in clergy positions always called to a higher standard, and to inspire higher values in those in which thet lead, Rev. Nicholson just could not bring herself to forgiveness for this terrible crime against her family. This internal conflict eventually led her to resign her post as the Pastor of the St. Aiden With St. George in Bristol parish church.

It is extremely difficult to deal with a great wrong went it is brought upon you. Yet it is the will of God that every believer find it in their heart to extend forgiveness to others. Even part of the survival of those caught up in the Holocaust in WWII was to be able to cope with the bad situation they were dealt with, and then to manage effective forgiveness years later. All caught up in these concentration camps dealt with the same cold and lack of food. But whether they survived was often determined by the ability of the heart and mind to cope. You could choose to be bitter and angry, and it often resulted in death to the elements at hand.

Ken Lay, the embattled Enron CEO, died this week from the stress of his conviction in the wake of the Enron scandal. As a boy, he could cope with living in poverty, raised in a home that did not have even have running water. And for many years could find satisfaction in his heart, despite doing without the things that most others only took for granted. But the public embarrassment and stress of a trial and conviction, and internal upset at this conflict with the values of his religious upbringing only tore at him and broke his heart, causing death. How we choose to think and feel, has this much impact on our hearts.

Part of what tears apart the heart and soul of Iraq is a lack of forgiveness on the part of Sunni and Shiite Muslims after 300 years of sectarian conflict. While many have moved on, and even married one another, forming loving family bonds, others continue this ages old sectarian conflict and endanger the chances for a lasting peace in this struggling nation. This morning for example, a Shiite Mosque was attacked with Sunni violence, and within hours, 40 Sunni residents were checked for ID by Shiite militia members and then shot dead. This cycle of violence fueled by a heart of unforgiveness only rots at the very core of Iraqi society and has helped to make this situation a real disaster for even the best of U.S. efforts to restore peace, calm and stability. Iraq has become almost unrulable because a cycle of unforgiveness, fueling a cycle of violence has become the rule of law.

It is of vital importance that all persons find it in their hearts to move on. Deep bitterness can well up in the individual and only have a terrible final outcome.

It is important to take a clue from the suffering of Jesus. A totally innocent man, who performed great miracles for the sick, and was beloved by masses, faced great abuse, torture and death, and yet found only forgiveness in his heart for the mankind responsible for his suffering. We are all called to a similar high standard of conduct regardless of our faith because unforgiveness is like a cancer or ticking time bomb, that only brings us to ruin if we cannot find it in our hearts to forgive those who did us wrong. We have the power to choose to be happy or to be sad. We have the power to feel joy, or to feel bitterness. The power to forgive is in our hands. And it does a heart good.


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