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What is your experience of forgiveness?

I WAS 14 at the time of the partition of India. My uncle died and my family lost their home and possessions. My parents never spoke about this period or laid blame. However, those events came back to me many years later at an interfaith meeting when a man apologized for the mistakes the British had made in India. I shared the pain I had felt at the time of partition. At the same time I acknowledged the good things the British had done in India.

Influenced by friends who believed that change in the world started with oneself, my wife and I decided that we would move forward together in faith into the future God wanted to give us. This came in an unexpected way when we were invited to attend a conference in India on the theme of 'Reflection, Healing and Reconciliation'. I spoke at the conference about my family's experiences at the partition of India. I concluded by apologizing as a Muslim to Hindus and Sikhs for the violence at that time. The graciousness of their response overwhelmed me and I felt a sense of release.

These first steps in healing and reconciliation helped me to tackle divisions in my extended family and to communicate with honesty and sincerity. For me, forgiveness is the key to happiness.

Idrees Khan, Cardiff, UK

IT WAS a good friend who said to me, 'Until you forgive him you will not be free. The unforgiveness in your heart will weigh you down and hold you back.'

At that moment I knew there was no other way to go on but to forgive. Not because the person who had wronged me had asked for it or because he'd done something to redeem himself but because Christ forgave me ... and in doing so asks that I do likewise.

I understood this but I guess I kept waiting until I could forgive him honestly. I was waiting to feel ready to forgive him ... but as a wise counsellor challenged me, 'If you wait until you feel it--it may very well never happen.' She went on, 'Instead see forgiving him as a step of faith. In faith forgive him and watch as God heals your heart.'

Not an easy thing to do. But I did it. And I continue to do it.

Until then I had always thought of forgiveness as a process; that it takes time to forgive. But I now realize that forgiveness is a decision. It is an act we must choose if we are to move in to the process of healing.

Bek Dutton, Adelaide, Australia

SOME YEARS ago I saw the musical about St Francis, Poor Man, Rich Man. In it there was a song, 'Grab that crab, before that crab grabs you'--the crab of bitterness. It told of an experience of St Francis when he was bitter towards his friends because they did not faithfully follow his teaching.

The next morning in a time of reflection I realized that I was bitter towards several colleagues in the church because they had opposed an initiative that was dear to my heart. I asked for God's forgiveness and decided that I would rebuild the friendship with these colleagues. In a remarkable way, within a short time, this happened. The barriers fell away and unity and peace were restored.

Rev Lindsay Cartwright, Trigg, W Australia

WE HAD just become engaged and were 'floating on a cloud'.

As we sat together in our car, I knew that this was the moment that I must be totally honest about things in my life of which I was deeply ashamed. She must know the kind of fellow I had been even if it meant she might change her mind.

Hesitantly, I told her the worst. I did not know what to expect. She turned to me with a wonderful smile and said, 'You know, this just makes me love you all the more.' I was so moved. It also helped me to understand more deeply what God's love and forgiveness means.

Next week, we celebrate our 29th year of marriage.

David Hind, Redditch, UK

TO FORGIVE is to let go no matter what, just as God did for us in Christ Jesus. But sometimes I found out it is not so easy for me to let go. Sometimes I will say it with my mouth but it is not settled in my heart. And even if after saying it to a brother or sister, I will be scared to do anything again with him or her.

Just like a brother I prayed for and gave him some money to return back later, but he did not. So for me indeed I forgave him but since then I refused to give him again. But that is not forgiveness.

So forgiveness is to let go of any wrong done to you by anyone and never count on it for tomorrow's dealings.

Sam Nwoborth, Kano, Nigeria
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Title Annotation:Since You Ask
Publication:For A Change
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 1, 2004
Words:828
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