Not long ago I read a quote from Albert Haase, a Franciscan priest that has stuck with me. “Forgiveness is the limitless choice not to pick the scab, not to become entangled in the grudge, not to stoke the fires of anger and resentment by hugging the hurt or announcing it to others…. We often hug the hurt and pick the scab because it makes us feel powerful and intellectually right.”
It has stuck with me for two reasons. The first is my personal resolve to live a lifestyle of forgiveness. At times it has been hard. It is a choice I have made. The second reason is the sorrow I feel for believers who are not living a lifestyle of forgiveness. Without exception they will have a negative and critical spirit. They just are not fun being with.
Men have you been picking a scab? I assure you that you are going to be given many opportunities to practice forgiveness, especially with those who are close to you. There is nothing that will keep you more humble then the relationships you have within your extended family. We often forget that keeping a grudge alive will take a lot of emotional energy. The more we invest in a grudge the more we will be sapped of our emotional stamina. I prayed years ago, for grace to be a loving, caring and open man as I become old. I have seen too many men as they age, become individuals who are really not a joy to be around. They have little to give emotionally to others because much of their emotional energy has been turned inward as they pick the scab. Ask yourself if you are going to be fun to be with as you age.
Men one of the greatest gifts you can give your family, is to be a man who lives in forgiveness. That does not mean that you become some kind of “wimp” but rather that you are a person who can love and accept others with all their faults, especially when you feel misunderstood, rejected or even betrayed. If we cannot offer forgiveness, it is always helpful to ask, “What am I gaining by stoking the fire of resentment?” I know in my life, it has often been due to my self-righteous need to feel justified and vindicated.
Always remember that forgiveness is a choice we make. Sometimes it will be costly. But as men of integrity we can choose to offer forgiveness as a selfless gift with no strings attached to those who are closet to us. Listen again to what Father Haase has to say. “The daily recommitment to this gift-giving shows the stuff of our soul and the intention of our heart. Even though the gift might simply lie in our heads….over time we will find it gradually making its way down to our hearts, where it loosens resentment and frees us from the past .” His advise, “recommit to that decision on a daily basis until your heart softens and you are set free from the grudge.”