If we want to be happy, we need to forgive

Most Australians over a certain age know the name Azaria Chamberlain. Azaria was killed by a dingo at Ayers Rock (now Uluru) in August 1980, aged nine weeks. Azaria’s mother Lindy Chamberlain (now Chamberlain-Creighton) was convicted of murdering her daughter and spent nearly three years in prison before finally being exonerated.

If we want to be happy, we need to forgive

I am often asked why I am not angry and bitter about what has happened in my life. This is the way I look at it.


We will be betrayed in life and it is not always intentional or personal. Sometimes it is because our expectations are unreasonable. It isn't easy to remain calm when everything goes wrong. We need to know when we are knocked down that it is important not to stay down. When someone does something nasty to us or makes a mistake, we need to rub it out, put it behind us and carry on, not rub it in until it is a permanent stain on everything we do, think and are.


Mother Teresa is reported to have had these words on her wall: "People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centred: forgive them anyway." If we have faith in God and in ourselves, nothing can permanently affect us. Resentment, hatred, anger and emotional hurt can all be justified at times. However, the cost of not forgiving is far too high. Bemoaning what we don't have, or what we want to change, means we can't enjoy fully what we do have. 


No matter how much we read or are told that we need to forgive, it is simply academic, and is of little use unless we know how to go about it, and are ready to do so. We hold on to the past unless we can see something better in the future. When we are still hurt and angry over what has happened to us, we tend to use anger as a suit of armour to shield ourselves from the possibility of any further real or imagined hurt. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote, "Anger is only one letter short of Danger."   


We want rectification, which is often impossible, so we channel our frustration into anger. Until we see another way to move ahead, we at least feel like we have some control while we make angry plans for revenge or restitution. We are not really in control. It is the anger that controls us. We cannot move forward in this state, but can make everything worse.


Anything we cannot face holds power over us. Subconsciously it affects our decision making process, and filters the way we see everything in our lives. If you are consumed by revenge and regret, you have begun playing the blame game and willingly making others responsible for your misery.   


The only power in painful things, hurt and criticism is the power you give them. If we have a clear conscience, no one can hold any power over us unless we let them.


Anyone can imprison your body by using greater force or authority.Youare the only one who can hand over control of yourmindby refusing to consider forgiveness. This really means we are refusing to consider taking back ownership of our own mind, so you leave it in the control of the person or circumstance you believe wronged you.


We do not invite the person or circumstance that wronged us to come and live permanently in our home!  Even the thought of that is horrifying. Why then are we not horrified by letting that very same person or circumstance reside in our mind, often to the exclusion of all else? 


When you refuse to forgive, it doesn't hurt the offender, it only hurts you.  It is like drinking the poison you meant to use to kill the other person. If they know you are upset and stewing over it, they really have reached their ultimate goal in making you feel bad. Jesus said we should forgive them!


I didn't really understand that until one day it hit me like a brick: forgiveness is not for the benefit of others - they must answer for themselves. It is for us.


It is saying to myself, "I can move forward, open to new experiences.  I am not being disloyal to the past.  I can use what I have learnt from it and move on.  I can forgive myself for letting it occupy my mind and hurt me. I will be in control of my own mind.  The hurt will not control me."


I can hand that hurt back over to the perpetrator and let him or her take full responsibility for it.  What they do with their responsibility is up to them.  It is not for me to point out or correct.  That is something they have to work out and answer for.  God is their ultimate judge.


Forgiveness means to cancel a debt someone owes you. This is a bad debt.  If you have to ask for or demand an apology it is not sincere. Forget the past and move on. The possibility of doing this is determined by our will and mindset. It is never easy.


I have found that if I can ask God to help me with the pain and the longing for wrong to be made right, and I can learn to pray for the person who has done me wrong, whether another person or a circumstance the powers of evil have caused, then I can forgive.  I can take back control of my mind and move on with my life. You and God are always a majority, no matter what the situation is.


By forgiving you are not saying what happened was OK.  Nor are you saying it is now OK to do it again.


Pain in life is inevitable - misery is optional. Mental health specialists point out that, barring a clinical illness, 90% of the way you feel is determined by how you want to feel and how you expect to feel.


It is notwhathappens to you that determines how far you go in life; it is what youdowith what happens to you. So, if you are going through hell, don't stay there.


I find forgiveness does not always happen immediately, because sometimes I hold on to my hurt with something of a death grip. Sometimes I move on, then go back for a visit and have to start all over again. But I get there.


If you think an apology is going to make it all ok again, think again.  The coach in the film Cool Runnings advised one of his athletes that if he wasn't a winner without a medal, he wouldn't be a winner with one. The same applies to apologies.


Happiness is not a reward, it is a consequence. If we want to be happy, we need to forgive.


You may wish to visit www.lindychamberlain.com

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