Forgiveness & Liberty
by Jeff Glass, Social Entrepreneur, Writer, Youth Advocate
“Anyone can hold a grudge, but it takes a person with character to forgive. When you forgive, you release yourself from a painful burden. Forgiveness doesn’t mean what happened was OK, and it doesn’t mean that person should still be welcome in your life. It means that you have made peace with the pain, and are ready to let go.”
I have two daily rituals: I pray with my son, Jesse, every night, and I drink coffee with my wife every morning. My creative son sometimes likes to change things up and break Dad’s routine. One morning, walking down the hallway with coffee in my hand, Jesse comes running full blast and head-butts me directly below the belt. After laying down for a couple hours, in agony and near the point of tears with pain, I was inspired to write this story.
Even in all my pain and frustration, I do not think twice about forgiving my son. He was just trying to play, and he truly did not know any better. I forgive him immediately when he makes mistakes. I will do my best to hold this same principle when he becomes a teenager.
I write and teach entrepreneurial curriculums for various schools and groups. One of the groups that I enjoy teaching the most are the young men and women in the juvenile justice system. They each have something in common, besides getting caught breaking the law. They have either been deeply hurt by someone, or they perceive that they have been wronged in some way. Their perception is their reality. All of them, in my experience, struggle with forgiveness of others and of themselves. Why is forgiveness so important, and what does forgiveness have to do with entrepreneurship? As an entrepreneur, you are going to fail, make mistakes, and even want to quit. Withholding forgiveness from others is bondage, and not learning to forgive oneself for failures is a life sentence--you will never be able to fully engage in your passion and move forward. Entrepreneurship starts with a mindset, but the mindset is useless unless you put the vehicle--that is you--into drive. Entrepreneurship is a series of acts equating to a lifetime of passionately pursuing freedom, birthing ideas that impact the world and often generating wealth.
Many years ago, my wife asked me if she could call someone from her past who had wronged her. This was difficult for her to ask. She explained that she needed to call him and tell him that she was sorry. “Wait,” I said. “Isn’t he the one who wronged you?”
“Well, he did, but it does not matter who forgives whom, I just need to be set free so I can be the person I am called to be in this marriage, with you.” Wise woman. It worked. He was shocked. That simple act, initiated by the one who had been wronged, impacted our marriage. It changed her life and brought her another step closer to realizing her true identity. I was now married to a free woman, an entrepreneur coming into her own.
“Before you can transfer your wallet from poor to rich, you’ve got to first transform your spirit from poor to rich.”
If we wish to free ourselves from the bondage of holding a grudge, we should realize that we do not need to first determine the motive for the action which needs forgiveness. When my son hurt me, was his action intentional or accidental? He obviously intended to get my attention, and boy did he ever do that! Did he intend to do it by causing me pain? Probably not, but the point is that it really doesn’t matter when I realize that when someone hurts me, it’s because they really do not know better or desire to be better. Does my forgiveness let them off the hook for their actions? No; it frees me from the responsibility of acting as their judge.
Hurt people hurt others, and some are just careless. I hope my students learn to forgive those who wronged them, and even to apologize and ask for forgiveness themselves, to be set free. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle in a series of relationships. Forgiveness gives rise to one of the first giant steps toward success: the act of liberating ourselves.
“Forgiveness does not change the past,
but it does enlarge the future.”