There is a German folk tale about Baron von Munchausen… he was out hunting one day and as he stalked his prey, he fell into a bog. He was so desperate to get out that he tried to pull himself out by his own beard! To his situation he managed only to add more pain.
This might be a laughable predicament if it didn’t parallel so closely the way many people respond after they have been hurt, slighted, humiliated or wronged in some way by another. Whenever we choose to hold a grudge, we nurture the pain and cause negativity to grow inside of us. This is literally adding injury to insult – or injury to injury as the case may be. It is not much different from the way Baron von Munchausen tried to remedy his situation. When you hold a grudge, you add negativity to negativity and you get … more negativity.
A better choice is not necessarily the easiest but unless you’re a fan of the Munchausen method or believe that negative plus negative equals positive then it may be necessary to forsake easy for wise; wise being the choice of forgiveness.
Let me relate the story of an Indian chief who, in addition to being wise and insightful, was a heck of a brawler. He had humbled many a young warrior who thought he was tough, making this Chief both respected and feared.
One day the Chief returned to his lodge and found his wife in bed with a young man of the village. The Chief told them to get dressed and leave. News of this indiscretion was soon all over the village and everyone feared for the young man because the Chief had killed men for less.
At the end of the day the Chief called his wife and the young man to a council of the people. Everyone thought “the Chief is going to make an example of the young man by beating him in front of us all” and “this is going to be very bad for both the woman and the young man”. People urged the young man to leave the village and never come back. The young man felt remorse for what he had done and said, “I will not run away. I can’t outrun my actions and I will accept the consequences, whatever they are.”
At the council the Chief asked his wife and the young man to come forward. As the people held their breath he asked his wife, “Do you love this young man?”
She looked nervously at the ground. “Yes.”
He asked the same question of the young man who, after swallowing the knot in his throat said, “I am ashamed of what I have done but I cannot deny what I feel for this woman.”
The Chief answered, “Then the two of you go and be happy,” and he went off toward his lodge. People stood in disbelief. Later, some from the village went to the Chief’s lodge and asked him why he had acted in this way. The Chief said simply, “Because I remember what it is to be young and in love.”
Not only did the Chief overlook the young man’s indiscretion and his wife’s betrayal, he forgave them both of these things – then he blessed them.
True forgiveness is a blessing to the receiver, the one who gives it and to everyone else because forgiveness is healing and comes from a place of love and positivity.