“Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
I grew up going to a Catholic school and ever since I was a child I have been taught that to forgive others is the essence of life. I really came to know and understand this virtue as early as first grade.
I will never forget when one of my classmates was laughing at me for being overweight. He was always making jokes to his friends about my weight and how much food I ate. I was hurt beyond words. I couldn’t understand what I had done to deserve this kind of treatment and I had no friends to turn to for comfort. I had the feeling like I was all alone in the world and nothing could ever get better. It was the feeling of being worthless. This harassment had gone on for many years of my childhood, mostly provoked by this one particular kid. At that time I didn’t realize that his anger was misdirected at me, caused by the suffering that somebody else was doing to him.
As a child that had felt forsaken by everyone, I was overwhelmed and felt the need to confront my problem. Unfortunately, I had failed to approach the problem in the appropriate way. Since harassing me was a common practice for this kid, one day I was anticipating him to say something hurtful, and I had preplanned it that I was going to fight him when he said it. Sure enough when he was walking past me a comment came out about my weight. Fueled by anger I had attacked him striking him many times to the face. When he had gotten up I felt ashamed at how badly I hurt him, but the anger had not subsided.
For the next few weeks, the ridicule had gone away, but somehow things still didn‘t feel right. Soon after that incident I had learned a horrible truth about the kid I thought to be my mortal enemy. My parents were telling me how his father was physically abusive to him and his mother had left him as a baby, so our parish was working with the kid to help him cope with his problems. I felt horrible to say the least. Just forgiving him in my own mind wasn’t enough. As hard as it was for me the next day, I walked up to him and made a joke about my weight to make him laugh. To my surprise not only did I learn to forgive that day, but I also made a friend in the process.
Over the course of my lifetime I have come to belive that we must accept everyone for their own uniqueness, and we must learn to forgive others if we are ever able to forgive ourselves.
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