Know what to remember, what to forget

A passerby stopped at a farm and watched a farmer mercilessly whip his mule while he ploughed in the hot sun.

After a short while, he told the farmer, “Look, it’s not my business to teach you how to plough. But don’t you think it would be kind if you would rather make some sounds like “hoo hoo” or “gee gee” and get the beast to plough instead of mercilessly whipping it?”

The farmer, wiping the sweat off his brow, told the stranger, “Look sir, three years ago, this donkey kicked me with his hind legs and ever since we have not been talking.”

Quite often, we hold grudges for months or years against others and recall or remember so vividly the hurts caused to us. We refuse to allow reconciliation or a spirit of forgiveness to prevail allowing this to ferment into thoughts of revenge.

In reality, the hatred and feelings of grudge we end up becoming a burden upon ourselves. Life can get miserable with every sight or thought of the persons who hurt us. True forgiveness writes off the past and makes for new and permanent relationships. When you forgive and forget, your friends increase, you have power over your sleep, your appetite, your work, your relationships, you are at peace and even your worship has meaning.

A man who was told by his doctor that he had only a few days to live called in a couple of people who had hurt him saying, “I have only a few days to live and so I forgive all of you from the bottom of my heart.” Quite relieved at the man’s spirit of forgiveness, they headed for the door when they heard him call them back, “But look, just in case I survive. I withdraw my forgiveness.”

Mahatma Gandhi, in his autobiographical reflections titled ‘All men are brothers’, writes “The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Only the courageous can forgive. Lay theologian and Christian apologist C S Lewis wrote, ”I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive too. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”

St Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, writes: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, with all malice, be put away from you. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another.” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

Life becomes meaningful and worth living when we know what to remember and what to forget. Forget the things that made you sad and remember the things that made you glad. Forget the times some of your friends failed you and remember the ones that stuck by you in difficult times. Forget the troubles that came to you and remember the many blessings that came your way.  

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