There once was a man who lived in a tiny village and who was easily offended. If someone forgot it was his birthday or didn’t compliment him on his new haircut, he would hold a grudge against the offender. This man was ultra sensitive. He carried a pocket-sized notepad. Each time someone offended him, he would take out his little notepad, pull out a pen, and enter the date of the offense, the offender’s name, and the action the offender did or did not take. When someone apologized and tried to make it up to him, he would forgive them, cross off their entry in his notepad, and try hard to forget the offense. He would let go of his grudge.
He started off as a decent, well meaning individual. Generally, he was well liked and happy. But, as the years went on, he was running out of people that he wasn’t holding a grudge against. He also became more and more selfish. All he thought about was how he felt and what he needed and what he wanted. He became very negative and skeptical. He questioned people’s intentions and looked for offense when there wasn’t any offense meant. He started staying inside. He became very lonely. As he became more lonely, he became more negative.
One night, he had had enough. He couldn’t take the insensitivity and rudeness of the village people anymore. He decided to write a letter to each person who had an entry in his notepad that wasn’t crossed off. In each letter he stated the offense and the date it occurred. Some people had many, many lines of offenses in their letter. To end each letter, the man who was easily offended cordially requested that the offender promptly come and apologize to him. Feeling somewhat better and in the darkness of the night, he walked to the village post office and dropped off the letters to be delivered the next day.
He had one of the best sleeps he had ever had. Earlier than when he was planning to wake up, he heard a knock on his door. He put on his slippers and had his notepad out, ready to see who committed this offense. At the door was the village grandma. She was on the notepad list of offenses only once for not smiling at him in the store. She told him that she had no idea that she had offended him. She brought over some fresh baked cookies as an act of reconciliation. When she saw that he was in his pajamas and slippers, she asked him to forgive her for coming over so early in the morning. She said that when she found out he was offended with her, she couldn’t wait one moment to come and apologize.
The man who was easily offended decided to forgive her of both of her offenses. He felt happy and glad to have someone in the village who he could be friendly with. Finally, someone who he didn’t have to hold a grudge against. Once the village grandma left, the village mailman knocked on his door. The mailman also said that he didn’t realize he had offended the man who was easily offended. He sincerely asked for forgiveness and so the story continues for each member of the village.
They had not realized they had offended anyone. They had not realized that anyone kept track and held a grudge. They all wanted to be forgiven of their mistakes, weaknesses, over sights, and carelessness. The man who was easily offended had lived most of his life in negativity and loneliness. Why? Because he held grudges and waited for people to ask to be forgiven before he would forgive.
The man who was easily offended did not realize that forgiveness brings healing, peace, and happiness to the person who is forgiving others. Dr. Sidney Simon, an internationally recognized authority on self-esteem and negative criticism has said, “Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves.”
James E. Faust, a spiritual leader and Apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has said, “Most of us need time to work through pain and loss. We can find all manner of reasons for postponing forgiveness. One of these reasons is waiting for the wrongdoers to repent before we forgive them. Yet such a delay causes us to forfeit the peace and happiness that could be ours. The folly of rehashing long-past hurts does not bring happiness.” A wise man once said, “Keep a place in your heart for forgiveness, and when it comes, welcome it in.”