I’m reading a wonderful little book entitled “Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All”, by Gerald G. Jampolsky, M.D. He begins the introduction by stating that he wrote the book “…because I truly feel that we teach what we want to learn, and forgiveness is the most important lesson I have to learn.”
Wow! That sentence made me realize something I hadn’t really thought about, or put into words. That we teach what we want to learn. As long as I can remember, I’ve been trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent (did I get that right?…yes, I was a Boy Scout). But the gratitude part didn’t always come easy.
I was, like most people I think, mindful of the obligatory “thank yous” for a kindness or gift given me. And they were sincere thanks. Yet, I was occasionally judgmental of other people, events, myself (this is all something I’m still working on).
I’m learning that to be truly grateful for all that happens in our lives, we have to forgive. Like gratitude, forgiveness is easier said than done. It’s a daily process, one that we practice for a lifetime. There will always be challenges, hurdles to overcome, problems to solve. This is how we learn, grow, appreciate.
But how did I happen upon gratitude to learn about? I believe God, and my mom’s spirit, put me on this path. Let me explain.
What I’m truly passionate about is long life. My mother passed on at the age of 47 from heart disease. When I turned 40, I started to think about my own mortality, and if disease was hereditary. As the 20th anniversary of her death approached (this was in 1995; I was 41), I began to learn about disease and illness – its causes and avoidance. I was fascinated to learn that we all have the capacity to live 100 years and beyond…and in good health!
Of course, there are things we must do, and not do, to celebrate a healthy 100th birthday. This includes getting rid of stress. Stress is a biggie! And to live stress free requires total forgiveness, and gratitude.
Let’s come back now to Jerry Jampolsky’s statement that we teach what we want to learn. That is why I’m sharing my thoughts about gratitude, and now forgiveness; to teach myself of their importance. (Of course I hope, too, that you may learn a little from what I share.)
How can we become grateful for harm caused us by people or events without first forgiving? We can’t. This is why forgiveness and gratitude go hand-in-hand. We must learn to forgive. It may not be easy. But if it’s joy and happiness you want in your life, you must work on it.
This doesn’t mean we become a dupe, someone to take advantage of. I’m reminded of a time many years ago when our youngest daughter had been slighted by someone behind her back, someone she thought of as a friend. I told her it was important to forgive, but that she didn’t have to forget. I guess the lesson was that we all make mistakes…we’re human, after all. Her “friend” just maybe couldn’t be trusted.
We can learn to be grateful for the lesson. Then let it go. “Let it go.” Powerful, powerful words. “This too shall pass.” Another phrase worth remembering. It is this way with forgiveness. So important a principle, it is well worth the effort to embrace…to make it a daily practice.
Let me close by recounting a story told in Jerry Jampolsky’s book. He and his wife befriended a woman named Andrea de Nottbeck. Although seemingly well-to-do, she became an ornery woman following the death of her husband. “She was difficult to get along with, frequently provocative, and extremely argumentative.” When she was 85, a friend gave her a copy of Dr. Jampolsky’s “Love is Letting Go of Fear”.
Andrea began reading it daily, and it changed her life. She forgave! Herself and others. She became so joyful, she changed her name to Happy. After Jerry and his wife, Diane, visited Happy at her home in Geneva, Switzerland, he wrote how “She was one of the happiest, most peaceful, and most loving people I have ever met.”
While visiting her, they asked what it was that had so dramatically changed her life. “Oh, I just gave up all my judgments.” she replied. She forgave. Makes one think, doesn’t it?
I urge you to read “Forgiveness: The Greatest Healer of All”. It’s a beautiful book, full of many stories like Happy’s. And I leave you with this quote from Dr. Wayne Dyer – “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way!”
To your happiness! Enjoy!
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