Home' Aurora : Aurora June 2012 Contents 15
www.mn.catholic.org.au Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle
Iam often asked why I am not angry and
bitter about what has happened in my life.
This is the way I look at it.
We will be betrayed in life and it is not
always intention It isn't easy to remain calm
when everything goes wrong. We need to
know when we are knocked down that it is
important not to stay down. When someone
does something nasty to us or makes a
mistake, we need to rub it out, put it behind
permanent stain on everything we do, think
Mother Teresa is reported to have had
these words on her wall: "People are
often unreasonable, illogical, and self-
centred: forgive them anyway." If we have
faith in God and in ourselves, nothing can
permanently affect us. Resentment, hatred,
anger and emotional hurt can all be justified
at times. However, the cost of not forgiving
is far too high. Bemoaning what we don't
have, or what we want to change, means we
can't enjoy fully what we do have.
No matter how much we read or are
told that we need to forgive, it is simply
academic, and is of little use unless we
know how to go about it, and are ready to
do so. We hold on to the past unless we
can see something better in the future.
When we are still hurt and angry over what
has happened to us, we tend to use anger
as a suit of armour to shield ourselves
from the possibility of any further real or
imagined hurt. Eleanor Roosevelt wrote,
"Anger is only one letter short of Danger."
We want rectification, which is often
impossible, so we channel our frustration
into anger. Until we see another way to
move ahead, we at least feel like we have
some control while we make angry plans for
revenge or restitution. We are not really in
control. It is the anger that controls us. We
cannot move forward in this state,
but can make everything worse.
Anything we cannot face
holds power over us.
Subconsciously it affects
our decision making
process, and filters the
way we see everything
in our lives. If you are
consumed by revenge and
regret, you have begun playing
the blame game and willingly
making others responsible for your misery.
The only power in painful things, hurt and
criticism, is the power you give them. If we
have a clear conscience, no one can hold
any power over us unless we let them.
Anyone can imprison your body by using
greater force or authority. You are the only
one who can hand over control of your mind
by refusing to consider forgiveness. This
really means we are refusing to consider
taking back ownership of our own mind, so
you leave it in the control of the person or
circumstance you believe wronged you.
We do not invite the person or
circumstance that wronged us to come
and live permanently in our home! Even the
thought of that is horrifying. Why then are
we not horrified by letting that very same
person or circumstance reside in our mind,
often to the exclusion of all else?
When you refuse to forgive, it doesn't hurt
the offender, it only hurts you. It is like
drinking the poison you meant to use to kill
the other person. If they know you are upset
and stewing over it, they really have reached
their ultimate goal in making you feel bad.
Jesus said we should forgive them!
I didn't really understand that
until one day it hit me like
a brick: forgiveness is not
for the benefit of others
-- they must answer for
themselves. It is for us.
It is saying to myself, "I can
move forward, open to new
experiences. I am not being
disloyal to the past. I can use
what I have learnt from it and move
on. I can forgive myself for letting it occupy
my mind and hurt me. I will be in control of
my own mind. The hurt will not control me."
I can hand that hurt back over to the
perpetrator and let him or her take full
responsibility for it. What they do with their
responsibility is up to them. It is not for me
to point out or correct. That is something
they have to work out and answer for. God
is their ultimate judge.
Forgiveness means to cancel a debt
someone owes you. This is a bad debt. If
you have to ask for or demand an apology it
is not sincere. Forget the past and move on.
The possibility of doing this is determined
by our will and mindset. It is never easy.
I have found that if I can ask God to help
me with the pain and the longing for wrong
to be made right, and I can learn to pray
for the person who has done me wrong,
whether another person or a circumstance
the powers of evil have caused, then I can
forgive. I can take back control of my mind
and move on with my life. You and God
are always a majority, no matter what the
By forgiving you are not saying what
happened was OK. Nor are you saying it is
now OK to do it again.
Pain in life is inevitable - misery is optional.
Mental health specialists point out that,
barring a clinical illness, 90% of the way you
feel is determined by how you want to feel
and how you expect to feel.
It is not what happens to you that
determines how far you go in life; it is what
you do with what happens to you. So, if you
are going through hell, don't stay there.
I find forgiveness does not always happen
immediately, because sometimes I hold on
to my hurt with something of a death grip.
Sometimes I move on, then go back for a
visit and have to start all over again. But I
If you think an apology is going to make it all
ok again, think again. The coach in the film
Cool Runnings advised one of his athletes
that if he wasn't a winner without a medal,
he wouldn't be a winner with one. The same
applies to apologies.
Happiness is not a reward, it is a
consequence. If we want to be happy, we
need to forgive.
You may wish to visit www.
By LINDY CHAMBERLAIN-CREIGHTON
Most Australians know the name Azaria Chamberlain. Azaria was killed by a dingo at Ayers Rock (now
Uluru) in August 1980, aged nine weeks. Azaria s mother Lindy Chamberlain (now Chamberlain-Creighton)
was convicted of murdering her daughter and spent nearly three years in prison before finally being
exonerated. There have been four inquests into the death of Azaria, with the latest in 2012. The outcome
of this inquest is soon to be announced. Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton accepted an invitation from Aurora
to reflect on the possibility of forgiveness. It is hard to think of anyone better qualified.
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