As the season of paying respect to Madiba is ongoing, one of the remarkable traits that he was known for, was his ability to forgive the people who had wronged him despite the impact of the wrongdoings. So this got me thinking, how was he able to forgive just like that? While thinking along this line, I went down memory lane.
I remembered a certain event that made me understand what forgiveness is. When I was in JSS1, I had just started the secondary school journey in a boarding school far away from home, so no fresh, yummy food like those I had at home neither did I have the luxury of a personal bathroom and all[you know the regular boarding school life. Loved it though] I had ‘Apollo'[Acute Haemorrhagic Conjuctivitis]. This was the first time I had any sickness that had to do with my eyes, even though, the ‘visit’ of chili pepper to my eyes was recurrent, but not Apollo[sorry I enjoy referring to the ‘eye sickness’ as Apollo; bear with me]
The Apollo/AHC worsened; my left eye was swollen and very red [it was one eye, but it felt like it was both]. While battling with AHC and visiting the school’s clinic [aka sickbay] for medication with no sign of improvement, I heard a classmate of mine [She just got infected with AHC] make reference to the fact that ‘She had contracted Apollo/AHC from me’. I was so angry with her [Little girl’s tantrum], I confronted her and she apologized but I did not accept her apology [it was not enough, I wanted something more].
Apology was not accepted, therefore ‘malice mode’ on! While this drama was taking place, someone [I can’t even remember whoever that was] had told me that inserting my early morning urine in the infected eye was going to help in curing the Apollo/AHC [hehehe, I think you know what happened next. I won’t describe the ordeal].
Yes I did it the next morning. And there was no change, if anything, it worsened, and I did not talk to the girl or forgive her either. To cut to the chase, after two days with no improvement, I forgave my classmate; my eye cleared up within the next two days, after being ‘Apollo infested’ for almost two weeks.
So what am I driving at? You may say that my eyes getting better was just a normal occurrence that was inevitable but took a long time; Well! I do not disagree with you or that it was the medication that worked, I do not disagree with you either. But in the midst of all that went on, I learnt that forgiveness does not just do the other person some ‘good’, it does some ‘best’ to the offended party as well.
Forgiveness is not a feeling, it is a choice you make consciously and subsequently with constant practice it gets easier. It is safe to think that Madiba did not like forgiving his tormentors, but he chose to forgive. Was it an easy decision? No! Did it get easier with time? Probably Yes! I recently stumbled on a tweet by Joyce Meyer, she said “Unforgiveness is like a poison and bitterness in your soul. Your life will always be bitter until you get rid of that poison”. I totally agree.
Don’t get me wrong by thinking that after my ‘ApolloAHC ordeal’, I learnt to forgive immediately, no it did not just stick just at that moment, but it was a significant step, which is why I have not forgotten the lesson even though I’ve forgotten the people involved. Choosing to forgive is an act of humility.
Christ has told us how many times we should carry out this act: 70 x 7 [matt 18:21-22]; I don’t believe anyone will choose to count this, as this was a metaphorical answer; meaning ‘at all times’.
In the present world where we live, people will keep testing our forgiveness but we are to make the choice to forgive, lest we keep ‘poison’ in our soul. Has your forgiveness been tested in a manner that ‘crossed the line’? How did you deal with it? How did you learn to forgive?
P.S And yes! my eye sight is doing just great,thank you. Lol. Have you ever had a naive experience in which you learnt a lesson from it as well, not necessarily forgiveness, please share!