Good Sunday Morning Dear Friend. Have you noticed how the things that mean the most to us are often those things we’ve worked the hardest for? Or, how some of the most inspiring lives suffered the worst beginnings? Dr. Ben Carson and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice come to mind. But as challenging as their early life experiences were, their childhoods were heaven in comparison with the living-Hell “stimulus” Victor Frankl experienced as a Jew subjected to the Nazi hospitality of Auschwitz. Who in this world could possibly be more entitled to their anger and hate?
Forgive Those Who Trespass Against Us
I confess that I wake up every single day heartbroken over what I can only describe as the agony of watching someone you love deeply die a slow and painful death. It is only human and completely natural to feel raw visceral anger and rage towards her killers. But giving in to these emotions chains us to the killer, denying the soul the very liberation it seeks. What to do…
And, just as Frankl himself may have experienced, our own friends and neighbors…in some cases, brothers and sisters…have invited the very killer who kills her before them. So “addicted to his ideology”, they comfort and sustain him as he tortures and strangles the very mother who gave them life. But who could know his pain and anger…
My friend Christoph Arnold wrote a book about forgiveness. The first story in his book was about a New York City Police Officer who was paralyzed after being shot by the criminal he was pursuing. As crippled as he was physically, the anger and hatred he felt for the man who shot him was destroying him inside and fueling his self-pity…until the day he decided to meet his shooter face to face and forgive him.
Stimulus–Space–Response! So not only is Space the Final Frontier…it is the Forgiving Frontier as well! Imagine the power of Frankl’s realization in a world where you are face to face with the beast that has taken everything else from you…until it meets you in this Space of knowing what you have gained and it has lost. 🙂
“A person is not an object among other objects. Objects determine each other’s path. a human being, on the other hand, is graced with the power of self-definition. His path and his destiny – of course within the framework of his abilities and environment – he decides himself. In the concentration camps, in that living laboratory, we saw some of our comrades behaving like pigs and others behaving like saints. Both alternatives are hidden in a person; and which will be realized depends on decisions and not on conditions.”
So when I wrote yesterday that there is no middle ground and that our true choice was to “Gird or Surrender”; the power of our own self-definition is the very armor that will not only protect us…it provides us with the capacity to hold compassion and forgiveness as we rise up to destroy the beast that no longer controls us!
Guide us through this darkness. Sustain us in our grief. Comfort us in the knowing…and above all, give us the strength to live every moment of today with Honor, Courage and Integrity in the light of your amazing Grace…we pray.
“Forgiveness takes just one person; reconciliation takes two.” ~ Dr Henry Cloud