To err is human, to forgive divine – how often have we heard this adage and how true it is! When humans deign to forgive, we do indeed rise to a divine level. It is very hard for people to forgive, especially when they’ve been wronged severely and for no fault of their own. It’s harder when lives are lost and you know that the wrong can never be put right again. But, the reason that this is such a difficult emotion is because not many of us realize that forgiveness has the power to heal – in fact, it is the best balm to soothe all the hurt that has been inflicted on us.
I began to see the importance of this statement only after I read the story of Kim Phuc, the woman who shot to fame as a nine-year-old girl because of one photograph that was enough to bring to light the shamefulness and ghastliness of the Vietnam War. The award-winning (Pulitzer) photograph showed a naked girl running down the street, screaming in agony with pain, pain caused by burns from napalm bombs that the U.S. Air Force had dropped on Vietnam. Her clothes burned her badly, so she stripped them off, but the acid had seared her skin as well.
The photographer who took the shot took Kim to a hospital, where she recovered after excruciating, painful treatment for second degree burns. She was in college when news agencies began the search for the “girl in the photo”, and the Communist government of Vietnam used Kim as a tool to propagate their views about the atrocities of the war. Rather than be a pawn in the hands of the government, Kim and her husband finally sought asylum in Canada where she is now a United States Goodwill Ambassador.
Kim holds no ill will towards the Americans who bombed her or the government that used her, because, as she says, she could put the past behind only when she forgave those who had hurt her. This is very true, because the moment we forgive, we stop hurting, and it’s as if the horrifying incident never happened.
A few years ago, I was dumped by my husband of five years. He decided to trade me in for a newer and younger woman, and just like that, my marriage was over. I was stunned at first, unbearably upset after that, and then unable to sit and cry for hours together, the anger finally kicked in. I wanted revenge, and I wanted it badly. I plotted my strategy for hours together, and the work kept me occupied. But then, the enormity and the sheer stupidity of what I was planning hit me all at once, and I was stunned at the malicious person I had become.
This was not me, the woman who loved like there was no tomorrow and who threw caution to the wind in all her relationships. I slowly started to rebuild my life – work, friends and social activities took preference over depression and loneliness. I threw myself into exercising and playing racquet ball. And although it took time, I was able to forgive my husband for what he had done. With the forgiveness came closure, and I was able to put all the bad memories to rest once and for all.
Kim’s story helped me a great deal – if she could forgive, then so could I. After all, my ordeal was nothing when compared to hers. One thing this experience taught me about forgiveness is that it is the best form of revenge, because once you forgive, your nemesis can no longer hurt you.
This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of phlebotomy technician. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address: firstname.lastname@example.org