During this time of Ramadan, we are inspired and aspire to getting closer to our Lord in multiple ways, through multiple channels. I often find myself reflecting not merely on issues of yesterday but on issues of from over 40 years ago. Laughing, and then not so laughingly, I think of those I may have slighted when I was 6 and 7 years old. More importantly, I re-examine what my ‘content of character’ may have been then as it is now.
These journeys can bring about euphoria, depression, and everything in between if there is a lack of balance and understanding in the process. There are words and actions we can never take back, whether they were meant with sincerity or malice. I often say that the opposite of forgiveness is not hate or acrimony, but stunted growth, and spiritual stagnation. Suffice it to say that is a definite sickness of the heart.
What is the remedy?
You have to be willing at all times to engage your forgiveness gene.
Most people know me as a comedian. What a lot of people don’t know is that I was a public school teacher, and youth worker for a good amount of years. I had what I call a ‘Jeremy Clark Story’. This story is a failure to save a student. He is now incarcerated, and will spend a majority of his life in prison. He was one of the first students I ever had. I was haunted by this failure, and ultimately found it hard to forgive myself. Enter engagement of the ‘forgiveness gene’.
I looked Clark up on the Internet, and found he was now a Muslim. I came to a clearer understanding that as life isn’t absolute, neither is failure. However, forgiveness can be when we are sincere. Forgiveness is Allah’s incredible way of having us get out of our own way, so we can see a better way… His way.
To engage your “forgiveness gene” you have to be dedicated, and disciplined in being thankful for all the success and challenges Allah brings your way. It is straight out of the playbook of his Beloved Messenger. Next, you have to bring almost a Zen-like appreciation for the little things that go right, or go wrong, then have the strength to disengage without merit.
You, like I am, are probably your biggest supporter, but your harshest critic. Practice asking forgiveness from Allah, then yourself, and then bless the world around you with it. Words like, “I’m sorry”, “No deception”, and “I apologize” are building blocks for asking and giving forgiveness.
In closing, if I ever wronged you…Please forgive me. If you ever wronged me, we’re good. Chances are really good I forgave you a long time ago.
Life, Love, Laughter,