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FORGIVING AND FORGETTING


Mr. Peale tells a story about a man who suffered from many health problems: headaches, skin troubles, gastric disturbances, insomnia. It did not take Mr. Peale long to discover that one basic cause was the burning anger that he felt toward his brother. The brother, the executor of their parents' estate, had misappropriated funds so badly that the man had been robbed of his inheritance. Mr. Peale said, "I told him that his anger was understandable, but that if he wanted to recover his health he would have to stop hating his brother. We talked a long time about the restorative power of forgiveness, and finally the man agreed to grit his teeth and forgive. But he kept coming back to see me, because there was no improvement in his health. All the unpleasant symptoms remained. Finally I said to him, "Are you sure you have forgiven your brother?"


"Yes," he said, "I'm sure. I'm not angry with him anymore."


Then another thought occurred to me. "Do you ever think about the results of what he did?"


"Of course," he said. "How can I not think about them? I'm reminded every time I look at my bank account and I am not able to buy basic necessities."


"Perhaps," I said to him slowly, "that's the trouble. You've made an effort to forgive your brother, but every time you think of what he did, the old resentments come flooding back. You've made some progress, but you're only halfway home. You have learned to forgive. Now you must learn how to forget."


"Forget?" he echoed. "How can I forget?"


Maybe there are areas in your life where you have been withholding forgiveness. If there are any grudges that you are carrying around with you (Like a big rock), take a deep breath and decide to get rid of them.

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