Friday, September 1, 2017

Forgiveness by Warren Bull

Attending a conference for clinical psychologists some years ago, I heard, “I once was lost, but now am found. Was blind but now I see.” coming from an adjacent room in the events center where a group of Presbyterians were meeting. Their music provided a lovely background for a new field of scientific inquiry called — forgiveness.
Psychologists talked about it while churchgoers sang about it. Researchers might have joined the party a few centuries late, but I was happy psychology arrived at all. 

The presenter said he recently had an insight that many of us might disagree with. However, he was willing to risk sharing his new finding anyway. He said he now believed every person, no matter how damaged, can be helped. He also believed every person, no matter how damaging that person has been to others, has the potential to change and ultimately become a healthy and caring individual. 

Forgiveness and repentance; what will psychologists discover next?
Let me be clear. Forgiveness does not mean staying in an environment or a relationship that is dangerous. It does not mean 

pretending events did not happen. If there are legal consequences for the person who injured us, we can forgive and, at the same time, assist the legal authorities. If someone harmed us, that someone might harm someone else. Forgiveness does not mean that the perpetrator escapes facing the consequences of harming another person. I truly believe that in the long run everyone receives what he or she dishes out to others.

Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. Taking the burden of resentment off our shoulders means not allowing injury in the past determine how we live now. We cannot change what happened. We can determine what we do in the present and what we will do in the future.

Forgiveness is taking an action for the forgiver, not the forgiven. In other words, let go. And then let God. 


  1. A timely reminder, Warren. Each of us has the power to forgive, which does not mean we should also forget.

    ~ Jim

  2. Warren,

    I agree with your sentiments. Jim is also correct: we can choose to forgive but should not forget.

  3. Excellent points, Warren. And just because you forgive someone doesn't necessarily send the message that what they did was okay and you don't have to like the person.

  4. Warren, my poetry and short mystery stories have been printed in our church's Family Newsletter since it started a little over a year ago. In the latest issue instead of doing parts of the story over four issues (they come out every three months) Dan, the editor and a big fan of my books, put the whole story "Mincemeat is or Murder" on one page. At the end he left a nice note telling the parishioner about my books and they should check them out.

    At Mass the following Sunday, I sat with my group of friends and next to Carol, as I usually do. Although we graduated from the same small class, we didn't hang around together in high school, but became friends when I sat next to her at church and then ended up in the same book club. After Mass, I asked her if she had enjoyed my latest story since she reads all my books. She scowled and said "I hated it!!! It had no business being in a Catholic Family News Letter." I was floored. She left then, and I left and worried about it all week wondering if others in our church felt the same way. I finally emailed Dan, and said maybe we should skip my murder mysteries and told him what Carol said. He responded with a very long email saying she complained about a lot of things, and Father Balish always checks the newsletter before it goes out and he enjoys my stories and so do a lot of other parishioners. Father Balish had said the Family News Letter wasn't for evangelizing but finding out what the parishioners were doing. He said any evangelizing would be at Mass.

    Last night when I went to book club, Carol wasn't there. She'd called in sick. After we were done eating and discussing the book, I asked Cathy, who is related to Carol - a first cousin once removed - if she'd heard about what Carol had said to me. She said yes, and it had really upset her and her daughter, Erin. Apparently, Carol told Erin what she had said,
    and Erin told her that was wrong and told her mother. Cathy and I both thought she didn't come to book club because she was embarrassed and feeling guilty. I'm feeling sorry for her. We all say things we're sorry for, although I don't remember saying anything that
    harsh, but I know even if we sit beside each other at Mass on Sunday, she will always feel
    uncomfortable about lashing out at me like that. Cathy told me everyone in their extended
    family has been hurt by her at one time or another.

  5. Time heals hurts, but there are some I will never forgive or forget.

  6. So true. It's called carrying a grudge because a grudge is a burden on the one holding on to it.

  7. The song "Amazing Grace" is a powerful one. It does address the ability of people to change, but does not advocate forgetting.

    We have all done things for which we need forgiveness.

  8. Good post, Warren. Forgiveness takes the burden off the shoulders of the injured, for sure. Life is too short (and too beautiful) to be burdened with so much unhappiness.

  9. Lots to think about in your post, Warren. Amazing Grace is a wonderful song, so moving, so full of wisdom. This made me think of the old saying "An eye for an eye and the whole world ends up blind."

  10. Very well put, Warren. Forgiveness is so the person who was hurt or harmed can move on with his/her life.