Charlotte’s just written a blog (CharlottesSoul.com) on forgiveness, and I responded with:
Charlotte, you’re spot on. Decades ago, in the bruising corporate world, at the top of my game, I lost everything I’d worked for as an 8-year CEO to a corporate coup d’état. I had two kids in college, another in high school needing a $25,000 a year drug after removing a brain tumor, and another who needed good support as he was deaf and mainstreamed in a local Elementary School, and a $36,000 per year mortgage–in the middle of a recession. I had immediately forgiven those involved in the treachery, and, after using up my fortune in an unprofitable start-up over three years, moved to a faraway city to restart at a lower level. For 30 months, I supported my family back home while living alone in an apartment 2,000 miles away. While living alone, I kept asking the Lord, “Since I forgave John (not his name) immediately, I continue to discover the damage he did to me is even greater than I had imagined, and I find myself forgiving him again, and again, and again. What gives? How can I forgive him one last time and make it stand? The Lord immediately put a new thought in my mind and I replied to Him: “O.K. Here’s what I ask of You, Lord. When You greet me as I arrive in Heaven, I want to find ‘John’ there beside You.” Although John’s harm to me and my family remains to this day, I know that I have asked the Lord to forgive him, in a way that will require John being saved, and dropped my charges. Not amazing, but truly stupendous, I know this is a done deal. Then, I started asking that for everyone who has harmed or hated me before or since. I figure there will be hundreds by the time I get there. But here’s the punchline, with John and all those hundreds, I’ve never again borne them ill-will, it has vanished, for He gave me this gift and I fill in the blanks and return it to Him. It all really started when He forgave me, and my job is to pay it forward.