The holidays are family time and for some, being with family can trigger stress and bring up issues of the past. Family ties are important so learning how to have healthier and happier relationships with family members can go a long way. Being able to forgive ourselves and one another is an essential element in developing healthy relationships and so I invite you to join in a forgiveness campaign for the next 8 weeks to learn what forgiveness is and how to do it. I hope people will share their stories about forgiveness, their struggles and successes, learn what forgiveness truly means and how a little willingness to forgive can help to release the emotional burdens which keeps us from connecting on a deeper level with one another and having peace of mind.
A story that I would like to share is concerning the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building which took place in Oklahoma City, April 19, 1995. Bud Welch whose twenty-three -year -old daughter was killed in that bombing. Welch’s words were “Fry those bastards!” I want Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols hanged, no trials necessary. “From that moment I learned it was a bomb, I survived on hate.”
Bud’s anger was focused on Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, and like so many others, Bud wished for their speedy conviction and execution. When he saw McVeigh’s father on television a few months after the bombing, however, his emotions began to change. He realized that “this man has lost a child, too.”
Not all of us could come to this conclusion so quickly. What did Bud Welch know that most of us might not if we found ourselves in a similar situation? Before Bud could get to this place of recognizing that both fathers were dealing with a painful loss, he had to deal with his personal healing.
Bud eventually arranged to meet with Timothy McVeigh’s father, Bill. “I saw a deep pain in a father’s eye, but also an incredible love for his son.” I was able to tell him that I truly understood the pain that he was going through, and that he – as I – was a victim of what happened in Oklahoma City.
What Bud was able to accomplish you, too, will be able to do if you choose to. The journey begins with understanding what forgiveness with all its complexities truly means.
Throughout our lives most of us have been taught about forgiveness. Each one of us thinks differently about what forgiveness means, ranging from emotional weakness to high moral standards. To be able to forgive, we need to understand what forgiveness means. Otherwise, our misconceptions can become obstacles in our ability to forgive.
Forgiveness is a process that shows us how to heal emotional pain by choosing to see the person who caused the pain differently. It is about changing the way we think about ourselves and the way we see the world. Forgiveness is an essential part of our healing, enabling us to release our anger, pain and suffering. As we learn to forgive and heal our emotional pain. We begin to experience the gift of inner peace.
Ultimately, forgiveness is about changing the way we think. Its transformational power moves us from being helpless victims of our circumstances to powerful co-creators of our reality. We learn to see people anew every day in terms of their future potential, not their past deeds. In becoming more loving, compassionate and understanding human beings, we gain the ability to have a deeper relationship with ourselves and with the significant people in our lives and we will know true peace.