Dec. 2, 2011: Holiday season offers a chance to forgive and bring peace, by Lorene Steimel

December 2, 2011 by

As we approach the holiday season, we begin to dream about the perfect Christmas. We think about getting the house cleaned and decorated, getting greeting cards in the mail and buying the perfect gifts for loved ones and friends. Will we have enough energy for all these tasks?

But wait. Is this what the Christmas season should really mean to us? Yes, these tasks are important but maybe we should pause and think about the real meaning of Christmas. The angels brought the message “Peace on earth to people of goodwill.”  If we wish to have goodwill toward one another, we cannot hold grudges or resentments. Matthew 6:12 tells us “forgive us the wrong we have done as we forgive those who wrong us.”

Forgiveness can be rather difficult. It is a process. We need to begin by forgiving ourselves as well as others. By forgiving we do not forget, but we remember differently. We remember in a manner that no longer harbors either resentment or bitterness and which no longer chains us to those who have done evil to us. Forgiveness is courageous and demands strength. Something in our nature wants to keep us holding on to our injury. The heaviest thing we can carry is a grudge. The hurt we refuse to forgive continues to harm us. Yet forgiving those who have harmed us is a freeing experience. Resentment drains our energy.  Forgiveness relieves us of this destructive baggage. When we let go we are freed.

Forgiveness is not for the forgiven but for the sake of the forgiver. We can have peace and harmony when we are able to adapt an attitude of forgiveness. We can dream of a world of peace and goodwill, but dreams are not enough.  Mahandas K. Gandhi said “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Have a truly peaceful Christmas.

— Lorene Steimel is a retired banker who volunteers as secretary of the Community Foundation for Cloud County and as a member of the Concordia Year of Peace Committee. She and her husband Bob live in Concordia.

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