The Courage To Forgive

I’ve been away for a while doing ‘Life’ – no, not behind bars but I have felt as thought I was on the wrong end of a couple of Federer 130mph serves!  But I’m back, happy to be writing again and delighted you’ve dropped into The Cafe.

The word ‘forgiveness’ creates a soft and gentle sound and yet requires courage, strength and a depth of understanding and compassion that can be so hard to reach when hurting and angry, whether for ourselves or on behalf of another.

As you read those words, I’ll wager you felt an emotional response because it’s part of the human condition and many of us still cling to hurts and betrayals long gone.  Our little bag (or portmanteau) of justifications, explanations and excuses travels with us, a useful box of tricks to pull out when necessary to explain our own behaviours.

So, why am I writing about this today?  Last night I witnessed a master class in the art of forgiveness.  He’s not quite there yet, but much further on than I assessed I might be in his shoes.

I was speaking with a man, we’ll call him Paul, whose son lies critically ill in hospital following major abdominal surgery having been set upon by a gang of youths who stamped on him for so long and with such violence that his bowel was perforated; a life-threatening injury amid the extensive physical damage.  No doubt the emotional collateral damage will reveal itself in due course.  Paul is a martial artist and felt  blinded by anger, as any parent might when their child is mindlessly attacked.  His first reaction was to seek and destroy . . .

And yet, from somewhere deep within those reserves we don’t recognise until called upon to use them, Paul has found the strength to try to understand what drove these boys to attack his innocent son.  We’re not talking inner city here where the stresses of life can be all-consuming, but a small and peaceful Cotswold town free from tower block living where tensions might boil over.

He said it had taken almost all he had to consider the place of lack and neglect the attackers must inhabit but it had taken some of the sting from his anger.  He recognised it as the first step to healing and emotional repair.   Paul needs to find that place of calm so that he can help his son recover and not allow these feral youths to poison family life or affect family relationships as each struggles to understand the painful twist their life has taken.

The words flow easily from the keyboard but the road to repair and restoration will be  long and challenging.  This family will be all the stronger for the clarifying of the soul each is being forced to do.  Courage, strength, understanding, compassion and balance will be theirs in time because the alternatives lead to the place the feral youths inhabit where there is very little self-love or respect.

May healing love surround the victims and abusers in this situation and those like it, wherever they are.

If I’m very honest, I’m not sure how I’d be feeling in Paul’s situation – how about you?  Would love to hear your thoughts.

  • OMG, Janet. Paul has immediately gone to top of my Heroes list. What a guy. Now I know about him, he’s my role model for the many thankfully smaller forgiveness opportunities which show up daily in my world. I wish him and his family all the best, and his son a speedy recovery. Sending my loving vibes. Judith

    • Swift Janet

      Thanks, Judith.  Yes, hearing of something like this certainly puts one’s own niggles into perspective.  Like you, I am warmed and yet slightly in awe of Paul’s capacity for forgiveness and realise I’m in need of a little inward reflection on how I know I would have reacted.  I’m also left wondering how the parents of the attackers feel?  Or perhaps there’s nobody to care?  It’s all so very sad and unnecessary.  Joining my loving vibes with yours.  Janet