By Richard M.
My “conversion” to a life of forgiveness and tolerance began 20 years ago when I lost one of the best jobs I ever had. I was managing a team of engineers, working hard to grow our business, and climbing the ladder of worldly success when the corporation re-organized our division and assigned my team to one of the most selfish and offensive men I had ever known. I tried to adjust to his harsh style. But it was no use. He was rude and evil, and I was horribly offended by things he did each miserable day.
I thought the solution was to write a letter and tell this man how evil he was, and how he needed to change. I sent it to his home, and hoped he would come in tears to thank me for being discreet and apologize for how he had treated me. Instead, Mr. Evil took the letter to our vice president, who called me in and suggested there was no room in the company for a man with my “people” issues. And there it was: Mr. Evil was promoted for his fine work as a tough leader–and I was out in the cold (literally…it was February) and unemployed.
It took me nine months to find a new job. I was bitter, and unforgiving. I told the story of my injustice over and over. I could not let go and just move on – he hurt me, but I was suffering, not him. How unfair was that? I never thought that the “problem” might be me, and that I was the one needing to forgive so that I could heal.
But the sun began to shine again the day I reported to a new job and met John. John was a man at peace with himself, a Christian, and comfortable in his world. Nothing upset him. I never heard him raise his voice. He was confident and secure – a man without guile. I began to see that my bitterness and unwillingness to forgive had not brought me anything – not peace, not contentment, not comfort – and certainly not confidence in myself the way John was confident. I made up my mind to watch John and to become like him.
The Savior taught us to pray for them that despitefully use us, and to love our enemies as ourselves. That is not always easy after we feel that we have been offended. But it is possible to live as Christ wants us to live. We just need to understand our own character, and then work at being tolerant and forgiving with the character of others.
The Lord taught that if we fill our hearts with charity for all, and let virtue garnish our thoughts unceasingly, then our confidence will grow in the presence of the Lord. Confidence helps us to understand ourselves and others, and to forgive as the Savior would have us forgive. So I set my mind to live a confident, Christian life – like John–trying hard not to offend others, and always willing to forgive. Here are my rules:
– I do not let the actions or personalities of those around me affect how I act or how I treat them.
– I treat everyone the same, regardless of how they treat me.
– I work hard to not ever be offended, so that I have nothing to forgive in others, and they never have cause to forgive me.
When someone yells at me, I respond with patience to find out why they are angry. If someone tries to unjustly get ahead of me, I let them win. I don’t need to be first. I don’t need to get mad. I don’t care how they act. I remain me, holding confidently to a Christ-like standard of treating everyone the same.
When I slip and let someone offend me, I work hard to clear the issue right away, to apologize for anything I did to offend them, and to get back to being me – treating everyone as if they are my best friend. Life is good.