Forgiveness—Breaking the Chain of
by Grandmaster Andrew S. Linick,
Ph.D., Hanshi, 10th Dan
A grieving martial arts master climbs daily to the
hilltop, searching the road below for the black belt student of
ten years who has run off to squander half the family fortune.
Finally, one day he sees a distant figure whose step makes him
catch his breath. Tears beginning to swell, master runs down
the road to meet the errant young student. Ragged and hungry,
the student tries to deliver his well-rehearsed apology, but
the master doesn’t wait to hear a speech. Tears spill down the
older O’ Sensei’s cheeks as he sweeps his adopted son into arms
that have ached with emptiness far too long.
But not every quarrel has such a happy ending. When
the offender doesn’t repent…when physical or emotional distance
makes reconciliation impossible… when the injury runs deep and
its effects still reverberate through your life… how is a happy
Does old anger and hatred keep
steaming through the surface, bringing you unhappiness and
guilt with them? Do you find yourself saying, "I just
It may be a parent, an in-law, a grown child, a
boss, a spouse, or ex-spouse, teacher, fellow peer who has
injured you deeply. As your wound festers, your injury haunts
Working Your Way Through
Forgiving is possible. Not easily. Not
quickly—perhaps. But you can free yourself from the memory
which brings such bitter sorrow. And, in the process, heal your
wound which has throbbed so long. Forgiving is not a moment of
tear-streaked reunion. It is a process. A journey of
Remember—the first step toward
Today, you will find a guide to your journey. One
caution, though: Don’t hurry yourself. There is no jet service
to forgiveness. No rocket can hurtle you to the journey’s end.
Yet, with patience and perseverance, you can find the
peace you seek.
Ageless wisdom tells us "forgive and forget." How easily we
forget small offenses. You know, the ones we don’t have to
struggle to forgive. It’s the opposite story for major wounds.
Only when we have forgiven can we begin to put painful memories
Can complete forgetting be dangerous, opening the
way for a repeat performance? Communally we dare not forget the
injustice of segregation or the horror of the Holocaust! We
know we must never let such events happen again. Every personal
experience yields important lessons. We all lose a precious
lesson when we forget the experience. One example of this is
the abused child/student who has never faced the wrong
done him or her ends up marrying an abusive
Remembering is clearly a painful task. Be gentle
with yourself. If you must, take it in three small steps. If
the old hatred gushes, 1) treat it as you would an unruly
child. 2) Admit its presence but make it sit in a corner while
you get this important work done. 3) Write down your
recollections—so you can pick up where you left off (if you
need to), then back off for a while. Now you can continue to
fill in the details piece by piece.
You can’t forgive what you refuse to remember, any
more than you can seek treatment for a disease whose symptoms
you have yet to notice. Begin your journey into memory
before you were so harshly tinged. Remember the time
before your need to forgive existed. Retrieve what your life
was like back then and remember what you were like, too. Were
you trusting, certain of your own invulnerability?
Remember each person who hurt you. Reconstruct
whatever relationship existed between you and that person
before rage blurred your vision. If a stranger wounded you, try
to imagine what that person was like earlier in
Once you have remembered the happier past, let
yourself relive the injury in all its painful detail. Note
exactly what happened. Feel how you felt inside. In your mind’s
eye, see the injury evolve just as it did
Understanding: walking in the
other person’s moccasins
Now re-examine the outcome. Besides your obvious
loss. Your shattered relationship. Your material setback. Take
care listing the losses you may not have chosen before— the
changes inside you. Did you lose some ability to trust?…to be a
happy, loving individual? What part of yourself, separated by
that past injury, would you like to regain?
Once you have recalled the injury in all its
dreadful detail, verbalize your gift of insight. Try to
understand why things happened as they did.
Probe the personalities involved. Note the stresses
at work on each individual—yourself included.
Perhaps, you may learn you, yourself contributed to
these unfortunate course of events. Maybe you did not nourish
the damaged relationship well enough. Possibly you refused to
see where surroundings were surely going. Or you may feel that
somehow you deserved what happened to you.
yourself into assigning blame. Don’t make excuses for yourself.
And forgiving yourself as well is
Making excuses for the person who hurt you is not
good either. (Excusing and forgiving are not the same thing.
You may excuse the small child who spills the too-full
glass of milk; you must forgive the grown child who
turns against you.) Just try to the best of your ability to
understand what was happening inside the offender.
Decide to Forgive
Right now you have a clearer picture of what
happened and why. So let’s face it. Do you really want to
Remember hearing the saying "nursing" a grudge? By
using this word we imply tender concern and prudence. Why is it
something in the human heart (some call it original sin) loves
dark feelings. When ire and hatred take up long time residence,
we grow used to having them around. Sadly, we even grow to love
Something in our heart demands fairness. Forgiving
when sorrow or atonement is absent, when real harmonizing is
perhaps impossible because of distance, death, or the other’s
unwillingness—that kind of forgiving rightfully outrages our
sense of justice. Some things don’t, in decent human terms,
Forgiving is not
something you do because you should, according to the standards
of religious belief or human decency. Forgiving is something
you do for yourself.
It is one way of becoming the person you were
created to be—and fulfilling God’s dream of you is the only way
to true wholeness and happiness.
You need to forgive so that you can move forward
with life. An unforgiven injury binds you to a time and place
someone else has chosen. It holds you trapped in a past moment
and in old feelings. Forgiveness is your ticket to total
Write down what difference forgiving will make in
your life. Think of what you’ll gain? And just what will you
Are you willing to lose the company of your dark
feelings? Have you the courage to step out into the future
without carrying the so-called bad luggage and extra
Let Go Tender Heart
The fact you want to do something, isn’t the
same as doing it. But it is a giant first step. Here on
in, it’s okay to give yourself time. Behind you lies arduous
work. The rest is a matter of practice. Little by little, let
go of the harsh feelings you have nursed for so long. You may
miss them at first, but you’ll learn they were in very
unpleasant company after all.
In your struggle to forgive why not ask for divine
help. The God of Judeo-Christian tradition has an ancient
reputation for compassion and mercy. Try praying
for your enemy. Don’t’ just ask for a change in that
person’s heart of behavior. Really pray for such a prayer. In
front of God who knows your mind and heart, spoken words are
not even necessary. Just stand before God with that person at
your side, and let God’s love wash over both of you until it
penetrates your heart.
The actual moment of forgiveness
probably won’t come as a sudden rush of warm feelings. You may
not even notice when it happens. But one day you may find
yourself really wishing well to the person who hurt you. Or
suddenly realize — you haven’t thought of your old injury for
At this point, you’ll know you have
reached your journey’s end. Indeed, forgiving can take a long
period of time, but in the end lies total exuberance and fresh
freedom and new-found life.
BIO of ASL: It is not my intention to
offend anyone in this article. If I have offended you, be kind
enough to forgive me. Thank you in advance.
Hanshi is an
award-winning photojournalist, martial arts grandmaster, author
of over 550 articles and 12 books including: the eighth edition
of PictureProfits®Toolkit Vol. I—IV. How to make up
to $75,000 or more Selling Your Photos to Thousands of Picture
Hungry Sources, Markets and Publications, and Trade
Secrets of a Freelance Photographer. Let Your Camera Make Big
Money For You! Nunchaku, Karate’s Deadliest Fighting
Sticks-4th Edition. Secrets of a Mail-Order
Fortunaire™ He can be reached at: HanshiLinick@hotmail.com, PO
Box 102, Middle Island, NY 11953-0102.