Last time we talked about the importance of not taking up residence on the banks of the Rubicon as a sort of personality preparation for the subject of forgiveness.
With that foundation in place, today we move on to forgiveness itself. And for a beginning point my suggestion would be –
Apply penicillin to keep the wound clean –
Early medicinal application of Alexander Fleming’s wonderful (and wonderfully serendipitous) discovery, penicillin, was in the area of wound cleansing.
Prior to this… deaths, the horrors of amputation, and a myriad of other maladies occurred from dirty wounds. That nasty bacteria staphylococci (not to mention germs) attacked people like an invisible terrorist.
Battlefields especially felt the sting. 620,000 soldiers died in the American Civil War. Two-thirds of these fatalities were due not to the wounds themselves, but to the diseases occurring as a result of the wounds becoming infected. Dirty wounds.
It was for this same reason that three-fourths of all surgeries in that war were amputations. They didn’t know why at the time (bacteria and germs), they just knew that wounds went horribly wrong and would lead to death, without amputation.
Jump forward 80 years and note the difference in WW 2. Amputations were rare, by comparison. And virtually all those that did occur were due to the wound itself, not contamination. It’s estimated that 12-15 % of wounded Allied soldiers were saved because penicillin was then available. The number would have been higher but the supply of penicillin was scarce in those days.
Unforgiveness is a staphylococcus (staph) of the spirit. Unforgiveness leads to bitterness and bitterness leads to defilement… infection of the wound.
Forgiveness is psychospiritual penicillin. It cleanses the wound. Forgiveness is an antibiotic for the threats to psycho-spiritual wellbeing.
This aspect of forgiveness is not concerned with the other… the offending party. Nor are we talking here about what to do if we are the offending party. These are not the topics for this day.
The issue here is why we should be forgiving when we have been wronged. And chief among those reasons is that we don’t want our wound to get infected. Refuse to forgive and I assure you – it will become infected.
This is a good place to slay a silly meme that has long been in our lexicon of pithy sayings: Time heals all wounds.
Nope. Not so. Not even close.
I have seen more people in my practice for whom time has infected their wound… not healed it.
In fact, the most toxic individual I have ever seen in my private practice of more than two decades was someone with an infected forgiveness wound.
Time, in and of itself, is not a healing agent.
Forgiveness is not weakness (indeed, the weak seldom forgive). Forgiveness is not passivity. Forgiveness does not make true spirituality insipid.
Whatever else it is, forgiveness is the practice of attending to your own well being.
As Frank W Boreham said, “It is a great thing to be a really good forgiver.” I would add to that… and the practice of forgiving is a really good act of self-love, self-care, and psychospiritual wellness.
Forgiveness, like penicillin, cleanses the wound.