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Forgiveness Overcomes Resentment
This week I have been struck with the significance of forgiveness. We have all been hurt or wronged by others. If you are like me, true forgiveness – and I mean really forgiving people who have hurt you – isn’t easy. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened to you, but it is allowing yourself to let go of the desire to get even.
This past weekend I read an article about NYPD Officer Steven McDonald who recently died at the age of 59 from a heart attack. Officer McDonald had been serving the past 31 years of his career from a wheelchair unable to walk his beat, to make an arrest, or even fire a gun. You see, in 1986 during a very violent crime spree in New York City (1,582 murders reported that year vs. 335 in 2016), Officer McDonald was on duty and tragically shot at point blank by a 15-year-old teenager in Central Park. Picking up the NY Times article:
The shooting left Officer McDonald paralyzed from the neck down, but he promptly issued a remarkable public forgiveness of his attacker and used his renowned position as an opportunity to preach understanding and speak out against violence and intolerance. Officer McDonald recovered to the point that he could use a motorized wheelchair and breathe with the help of a respirator. He traveled in a specially equipped van. At his funeral, NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill called Officer McDonald “one of the most fearless cops to ever don a uniform,” and reiterated the officer’s mantra that the only worse thing than taking a bullet to the spine would have been nurturing revenge in his heart. Officer McDonald’s life was shaped by three bullets and three words:
“I forgive him.”
American theologian and writer Frederick Buechner said that of all the deadly sins, resentment appears to be the most fun. To lick your wounds and savor the pain you will give back is in many ways a feast fit for a king. It turns out that what you are eating at the banquet of bitterness is your own heart. The skeleton at the feast is you. You start out holding a grudge, but in the end the grudge holds you.
I think we can all work towards true forgiveness by letting our bitterness fall away and live a lighter life filled with healing and kindness.
Push the Sled blog is written by Dusty Alexander, CEO of Global Shop Solutions, because no matter how good you get (at physical fitness, running a manufacturing business or being an ERP user) you can always work harder, get better, and be humble.