Forgiveness, Pt 1

Christmas is such a glorious time of the year for me.

I love Christmas and all that it means. Or better, what I am capable of comprehending of all that it means.

While thinking of where to head with this next blog series I thought – Where better to go this time of year than to talk about forgiveness.

For the next few weeks, we’ll do just that… looking at one central theme in each post dealing with the subject of forgiveness.

I want to start where I start with my clients, when forgiveness is the subject at hand. While not about forgiveness directly, it does address a personality issue which often leads to forgiveness being needed.


Don’t set up residence on the banks of the Rubicon –

I’m sure you know the reference “crossing the Rubicon,” but do you know the source of that famous statement? A brief history lesson is helpful here.

In the 50s BC Julius Caesar was the Roman governor of the region of Gaul (north of Italy). Caesar was a brilliant military strategist and leader of men. He had a loyal and powerful army and, as a result of his conquests, a wealthy man.

So great were his successes that the Roman Senate came to fear his power and popularity. Consequently, the Senate demanded of Caesar that he resign his command and break up his army.  If he did not comply, he would be declared an enemy of Rome.

It’s January, 49 BC and Caesar is encamped in the city of Ravenna, in northern Italy and he has a decision to make. Comply with the Senate – or initiate a civil war.

Just south of Ravenna is a shallow little river extending inward from the east coast of Italy – the Rubicon.

The Rubicon is insignificant, as rivers go. However, in terms of import, it was a colossus.

By the dictates of law, no Roman general was permitted to cross the Rubicon and enter the heart of Italy with a standing army. It was a treasonous offense.

Caesar crossed the Rubicon…

…and the bloody civil war that would turn Rome from republic to empire ensued.


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So, what in the world is the point I’m making here? What do I mean when I say “Don’t set up residence on the banks of the Rubicon?”

I’m suggesting that you don’t get in the habit of drawing the line (another reference from ancient Rome, by the way) on every antagonist you encounter. Don’t make an issue of every slight, of every offense that comes your way.

Those who do this usually try to put a useful spin on it: I don’t take people’s crap, I stand up for myself, and so on.

Now, is there a point at which these sort of statements have a place? Absolutely! I invoke an old Chinese proverb here – If you insist on being a worm, do not complain when others tread upon you.

But it’s all a matter of balance, isn’t it.


If you set up residence on the banks of the Rubicon, that is, if you are constantly taking offense at the slightest of slights… well, it makes you nothing more than a reactionary. This is to be a slave to the actions of others.


Don’t pick up every offense and clutch it as though it has value. If you have that habit, work to break it.

If you have crossed the Rubicon on issues in the past and have damaged relationships in your life because of it, I’ve got a suggestion.

Let it go.

Put it down.

Reach out to the other party and see if you can get some reconciliation.

Christmas is coming. What better time of year to heal a wounded relationship?


Merry Christmas!


Dr Michael Ruth, Growth Resources, Personal Growth