John is a poet and short fiction writer who enjoys collaborating on stories with other writers, and partaking in challenges.
Friend and fellow writer Brenda Arledge kindly provides a word prompt each week to inspire other writers to maybe expand their horizons and some poetry or maybe a short story. Her word prompt for Week 46 of Word Prompts Help Creativity is “forgiveness.”
What Is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is generally defined in psychological terms as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or anger toward a person or group who has harmed you. The fact that they may not actually deserve your forgiveness is irrelevant.
Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts agree that when you forgive, you should not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offence committed against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offences. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you or release them from accountability.
Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. It involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.
Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.
— Martin Luther King Jr.
Forgive Them ~ A Poem
Forgive those who insult you,
Who try to bring you down.
They may think they are funny
But you’ve never trusted clowns.
If someone strikes you in the face
Offer them the other cheek.
Forgive them for their anger,
It just proves that they are weak.
Forgive the ones who cheat you,
The scammers and the thieves.
Could it be nature or nurture
That they lie and deceive?
Maybe someone forsakes your love
And breaks your lonely heart.
Forgive them for their fickleness,
It’s better that you part.
Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
— Oscar Wilde
Forgive those who are jealous,
Who for your life may crave.
Pray that they can be content
And feel blessed with what they have.
Don’t judge those who are violent,
Offensive and uncouth.
They had unhappy childhoods,
Or abused and troubled youth.
Forgive all the for-mentioned,
But you don’t have to forget.
You learn from those who hurt you
And it isn’t over yet.
Holding grudges keeps you shackled,
It’s better to forgive.
Forgiveness gives you freedom
To laugh and love and live.
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
— Mark Twain
The Bully ~ A Flash Fiction Story
The smile on Victor’s face as he looked through his old school photos, quickly turned to a frown as he flicked to one of his 6th Grade. This particular photo brought back unhappy memories that he’d rather forget. As he perused that class photo he realised he’d forgotten many of his classmates, but not one particular child - Chris Sandow - he would never forget that name. 6thGrade was the year he’d been bullied unmercifully, and Chris had been that bully. Bigger and stronger, he had pushed Victor around in the playground, stolen his lunch money, and even if he took a packed lunch, Chris would take possession of that. He often snuck up behind the smaller boy and gave him a wedgie, and even once “dacked” him in front of a group of girls. Victor’s feeble protests and struggles just seemed to fuel the fire and make it worse.
Twenty years had passed since then and Victor had a valued position in a successful company. Since his school days, he was determined to live up to his name and never be a victim again. He spent time in the gym strengthening his body and even took up martial arts. If he ever met Chris again he wouldn’t be the same timid weakling from school.
As Victor slowed his BMW to a stop at a red light on his way to work, he glanced out his window and saw a scruffy vagrant scavenging in a trash bin. Normally he would have turned a blind eye and just focused on watching for the lights to change, but this man looked familiar.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
— Mahatma Gandhi, All Men are Brothers: Autobiographical Reflections
Victor directed his car off to the side of the road and parked it. He approached the stooped and shabbily dressed figure who belied his initial appearance by being no older than Victor.
“Chris?” asked Victor with a hint of disbelief in his voice.
The man tried to turn away at first, probably in shame, but when it was obvious Victor wasn’t leaving him alone he answered nervously, ”Victor… it’s been awhile.”
Victor looked his old nemesis up and down. This was the bully who had made his schooldays an utter hell. But, instead of feeling hate and using this moment as a chance for revenge, Victor instead felt pity for what Chris had become. “What happened to you?”he asked genuinely concerned.
“Oh, life dealt me some shit! And I guess I made some bad decisions … you know.”
Victor actually had the feeling that Chris was afraid of him, expecting some form of pay-back. You could say the shoe was on the other foot now, but it didn’t feel like he expected.
Victor, put his hand out and said, “Chris, I forgive you. I’ll never forget how you bullied me and made school a nightmare, but I forgive you.” The other man accepted his offered hand tentatively. “I’m s…sorry!” he stammered.
Then Victor reached into his jacket. He withdrew his wallet, removed a $100 bill and handed it to the person he had once hated more than anyone else in the world. “When and if you get back on track, pay it forward, okay!” he said as he walked away. He smiled to himself and felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders.
People have to forgive. We don't have to like them, we don't have to be friends with them, we don't have to send them hearts in text messages, but we have to forgive them, to overlook, to forget. Because if we don't we are tying rocks to our feet, too much for our wings to carry!
— C. JoyBell C.
© 2022 John Hansen