Forgiveness, Pt 3

Forgiveness is a complex (not complicated) subject. We need to know how to seek forgiveness – from God, from others, and yes, even from self. We need to know how to extend forgiveness to others when they have wronged us.

But in this short series, we are dealing with a singular aspect of forgiveness… namely, what effect refusing to forgive has on us.

Previously in this series we’ve talked about the importance of not developing the type of personality that regularly needs to forgive, and forgiveness as (metaphorical) penicillin which keeps the wound clean.

In this week’s installment we journey to South America and learn…


What monkey catching can teach us about forgiveness –

Monkeys are not easy to catch. They’re quick, clever, and – like most animals in the wild – wary.

But tribes in Amazonia have devised a very clever and practical way of catching them.

Here’s the process: they take a gourd and cut a small hole in the neck of it and run a piece of vine through it. They then tie a knot to secure the vine to the gourd. The other end of the vine is tied around a small tree.

Next, a larger hole is cut in the belly of the gourd and then the insides are cleaned out. The size of the hole is critical and the tribespeople know exactly the size to make it.

Some nuts or pieces of fruit are dropped into the gourd, which is then placed on the ground. Then the individual simply gets on with life for a few hours.

When they return, a monkey is attached to the gourd!


[su_highlight background=”#f7fa3a”]Here’s what happened. [/su_highlight]

The monkey likely saw the person put the food in the gourd (sight being their strongest sense). And if the goody is cut fruit, they perhaps smelled it as well. Being curious critters, the monkey just had to check it out.

The monkey put’s it’s paw in the gourd, takes hold of the food and absconds with it! Or, that is, tries to.

Remember that hole in the belly of the gourd I told you about earlier? It’s key to the process. That’s why the size of the hole is critical.

The hole is large enough for the monkey to reach its paw in, but small enough that when it makes a fist around the clutched food… it cannot extract it’s hand.

The tribe member – even a child can do it – simply walks over to the trapped monkey and conks it in the head. Dinner.

A fist, you see, is larger than an extended hand.

All in the world that monkey had to do to be free… to avoid being a captive (and ultimately, a meal!)… was simply to let go of its clutch.

But it just won’t do it.


We humans sometimes act in much the same way. And while we don’t, thankfully, end up as dinner – we do become a captive.

We lose our freedom.


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When you refuse to forgive, you become a hostage of sort to that person and to that issue. You lose a bit of your freedom.

And all in the world you have to do to get it back is simply let go.

Keep your fist tightly wrapped around the matter and you pay a high price.

Release your clutch on the person, the issue… and you are free to simply walk away.


Christmas! What an ideal time to get your freedom back.


Dr Michael Ruth, Growth Resources, Personal Growth