Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can offer, and so it is one of the most rewarding. It is during the night we are offered the highest potential for forgiving others, it is a literal gold mine of opportunities. During the night people can do horrible things to one another that causes immense hurt and pain. Quite often, the easiest response when someone does something like this to us is to hate them for it and feel animosity towards them.
The irony is when we hold onto anger and hatred towards another, it actually causes us more pain. Whilst we continue to desire revenge and retribution, we are the ones who suffer.
"Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured." Mark Twain
The most challenging path is forgiveness, but when we do, we let go of that pain, and so we can move on with our lives, and in doing so we free ourselves from the torment.
Here is a story that demonstrates the wisdom of letting go: -
Anthony Ray Hinton – As a 29-year-old man, he was fitted up by police for a crime he did not commit. Despite there not being any substantial evidence of any guilt, the police were hungry to make someone pay, and so they arrested him and charged him with the murder of 2 people. He ended up being on death row for 28 years, living his life in a 5ft by 7ft cell 24 hours a day. I want you to imagine being innocent and being put through this. Imagine living 28 years in a room that is the size of a cupboard. All alone, no contact with any loved ones left all day with just 4 walls, a small bed, and your own thoughts.
Many in the wing committed suicide, he could smell the burning flesh of those being executed from his cell. Yet thanks to lawyer Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) they fought his case. Finally, on 3 April 2015, the State of Alabama dropped all charges, and he was released after almost 30 years of being innocent. Despite spending all that time being locked up as an innocent man, he never even received an apology.
His own words as told to Fran Singh in the Guardian Newspaper in this story: -
"I've never had an apology, but I forgave those involved in my conviction long before I left prison. I didn't forgive them so they can sleep well at night. I did it so I can."
Here shows why when you forgive others, it is you who benefits. By letting go, you can release the pain of what happened to you. This man is an inspiration to us all in having the strength to forgive, even when someone does you a wrong on this level.
He is showing true leadership on how to move forward after significant trauma, and forgiving his perpetrator because he realises it is in his own interests to do so. So he becomes far richer for it. Even when the ones who have caused him this pain have no remorse, he can still find it in him to forgive and that makes him a true giant. He is a real beacon of light and strength, a hero of mine, and a truly remarkable character. Let's use his example to forgive what has happened during the night.
All those hideous crimes that have been committed. By humans on each other, often under the cloak of darkness. Will need to be forgiven if we are to move on. We can only truly move on when we are set free from the prison, and yet we cannot be freed from the prison until we have forgiven.
"If you have taken my eye, my gift to you is not to take yours, and for this, I am richer than I ever was before, for I have learnt the power of forgiveness. With the power of forgiveness, I have learned to see Life in a whole new way. If I had taken yours, I would have had the temporary satisfaction of revenge, but this comes at a grave price over the long term of more anger and pain. In revenge, there lies hollowness, in forgiveness, there is a sense of completion".
Since I first wrote this in 2017, Anthony Ray Hinton has released a memoir of his ordeal aptly titled The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row.
Revenge is sourness dressed as sweet, forgiveness is sweetness dressed as sour. When you can forgive it shows you trust in yourself and the goodness that lives within you and those that you love. You can say "although something horrible has happened, I still believe in the goodness of life".
In a world of Light and Dark, there has to be a time for villains, a time for those so lost in the darkness they can hurt others. This is all part of the plan; the darkness is the catalyst we need to realise our own light. It is in understanding this that we can find forgiveness. On a deeper level, we know we choose to come here, and we know what we are signing up for.
Here is another story on the magical power of forgiveness in empowering the victim: -
A lady of 45 named Carmen Tarleton was viciously attacked by her estranged husband who beat her with a baseball bat whilst she was sleeping until she blacked out. It was then he poured industrial-strength chemical detergent over her. During the attack, she suffered 80% chemical burns over her body. Yet she found it in her to forgive him and move on with her life.
Her injuries were so severe she was left in need of a face transplant, yet she told ITV's This Morning that the decision to forgive her ex-husband, Herb Rogers' left me with room to grow, to move on with my life and free to meet someone and trust them.'"
On the show, she was joined by new partner Sheldon Stein, a music teacher, who she met when enrolling for piano lessons. He knew her before the attack but had since noticed 'her incredible spirit and desire to start again'.
'Forgiveness is not about them at all, it's not about condoning what they did, it's about you, about your self-esteem and confidence. I have forgiven him, and it's left me room to grow.'
"Tarleton's life-changing face transplant was the fifth the Boston hospital has performed, and the doctors said that Carmen can expect to regain almost full functionality in her face.
In her book Carmen says that she wouldn't take back what happened to her, insisting she is 'more blessed' now than she was before Rodgers broke into her home and unleashed his anger.
'When life gives you a big negative situation like I'd been through, if you can get through that, you can really find all of the blessings and all of the positive things that can come out of that,' she said.
'And I found so much that I would not go back. I'm so much more blessed than I was then.'
While she lay in a hospital bed after surviving what doctors called 'the most horrific injury a human being could suffer,' Tarleton decided it did not have to ruin the rest of her life.
She had vivid dreams, including one where dozens of doors stretched around her, and a voice said 'Life is a choice,' before the words appeared one at a time in white across a dark movie screen: LIFE IS A CHOICE."
You can read more of Carmen Tarleton's story in her book: - 'Overcome: Burned, Blinded and Blessed' She is an amazingly inspirational woman with a resplendent beauty, who can overcome the ugliest of things in life and use them to create beauty. By being able to forgive, she was blessed and is a blessing to the world. Knowing like her that LIFE IS indeed A CHOICE I am in awe at her bravery for choosing to suffer so horrifically, yet for it, she was blessed in so many ways, and for it, she is stronger and more beautiful than ever.
We suffer these terrible things for our own growth, the reason we find such empowerment in letting go and forgiving is because that was its real intention. Life never hands us more than we can handle, and although some people have suffered horrendously, they can use it to become empowered come the day.
The greatest form of giving is forgiving. The biggest bullies are the ones who hate themselves the most, and so are the ones in need of the most love. But in our world, they get shown the least and so they cannot begin to heal. An act of violence is a desperate cry for help from someone who simply cannot ask for it. Such challenging behaviour arises from an inability to communicate what is troubling them deep inside. The tougher and more threatening someone makes themselves out to be, the weaker and more frightened they are on the inside. Real strength is the strength to be vulnerable, and that is because you are honest and genuine to yourself.
The toughest people don't retaliate to violence with more violence they forgive. To forever give, one must be forgiving. Forgiveness is what God is about and to be like God, we must be able to forgive, so don't hate those who you asked to offer you that gift. Yes, truly people do things that need to be forgiven to provide the gift of forgiveness to another. It's so tough, but being God is not meant to be easy, the more difficult the challenge, the more rewarding it can be to overcome. See them for who they are underneath, and you will find peace within, and then you will be free from the burden of evil. We have all been hurt, yet we have also all hurt others.
To forgive does not mean to forget, to forgive does not mean to allow it to continue whilst we stand aside and do nothing. To truly forgive, we have to put a stop to abuse because as Neale Donald Walsch said: "even an abuser is being abused whilst that abuse is allowed to continue." As night turns to day abuse is ended, in a world of light, the darkness is brought to light.
Despite all that darkness during the night, do you believe in Love? Can you still see the Light? If you do and you can then we are not alone: -
"In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can't build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever-approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquillity will return again."
― Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl
If she could still believe despite all the horrors inflicted on her, why can't we now? Can you find it in you, the Love? The Light? Do you trust in Heaven's plan for us? Do you feel peace and tranquillity is back on the way?
"Those who are patient in adversity and forgive wrongs are the doers of excellence."
Even if you are in ISIS I insist that together we can find a way, so what do you say to beginning a new day? Together we can, but apart we can't, begin to plant, the seeds of peace, from my street right through to the Middle East. Now let's feast on love and set free the doves, we are both human yet divine, so why don't we turn the water into wine, and together we can rhyme. My spiritual sibling and courageous companion of the ages do you see it in my scribbling?
An invitation to end our quibbling. If we can just learn to get along, then we cannot go wrong.
I will finish by saying "I am sorry to all those that I caused pain", and that "I forgive all those that have caused me pain." I am here to ask you, one human being to another…
" Please can we start again, my friend?"
"The Voice of Darkness"
"If you hate a person, then you're defeated by them." Confucius
I am sorry to you, really you are my friends. I have done some sick and heinous things to you through the night. Yet here it has been revealed why I did it, and that is for your own growth. Now if you can let me go, you can grow in extraordinary ways, you will be free and so shall I, so what do you say? Shall we start a new day? By forgiving me, you defeat me, and I am telling you this is why I am here. The truth tastes bitter, but accepting it can make life so much sweeter. When you can forgive you can let go and so begin to truly live life in the present moment.
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