The Power and Purity of Forgiveness

Gray - Harrisonburg, Virginia
Entered on February 27, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: forgiveness
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The words of Jerome K. Jerome now are a mantra by which I live. He states, “It is in our faults and failings, not in our virtues, that we touch one another, and find sympathy. It is in our follies that we are one.” These words define a very important aspect of the human element: the tendency to make mistakes and become entangled in them. Yet I learned it to be wrong, from personal experience, to penalize those around me, including myself, for the occasional “slip-up” or faltering. There has not been a single individual who has managed to escape the clutches of infallibility, myself included. I believe in the power and purity of forgiveness. It is cleansing for the mind and soul, as well as adds to a greater depth of living the human experience. After learning this important life lesson, I learned to throw old grudges into the wind and rekindle old friendships. If I hadn’t learned, anger and resentment and guilt would have been bottled within me until the bottling reached a feverish pitch. I am oddly enough thankful for a quarrel that occurred between a close friend and I, for it fundamentally altered the way I thought about making mistakes and granting forgiveness.

Almost within forty-eight hours of setting foot upon a college campus, one of my closest friends became drawn into a psychologically abusive relationship. Every time I saw her and her newfound “flame”, my stomach was reduced to knots and a certain uneasiness fell upon me. I naturally approached her regarding the situation, but to my dismay I was accused of betrayal and being unsupportive of her “happiness”. Shockingly enough, I was being attacked outright for being honest and concerned. Accordingly, I retreated into my own little corner of the world and pushed one of my closest friends to the outer fringes. “How could she ignore my concerns?”, I would often ask myself, or “Why can she not see he is hurting her?”. My retreat, however, did not end the pain I felt, both because I shut out a friend and had a so-called best friend completely disregard my heartfelt opinion.

A sermon delivered by my pastor at the campus Lutheran and Presbyterian ministry, amid the gentle flicker of the altar candlelight, opened my eyes more clearly to the situation. Messages of divine forgiveness and making mistakes awoke the memory of the quarrel and I slowly started to realize that I had no right to push a friend out of my life because of a simple mistake; she was abused, something out of her control. I simply could not believe what I had done – pushing a friend away in a time of need. This led to the mutual apology session; she opened up to my opinions and I was able to graciously accept the fact I had made a mistake. And all was forgiven and, after all, in the words of Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.”