A Story of Forgiveness that’s Kicking My Ass

Nothing will eat your soul faster than unforgiveness. I’ve never met a miserable person, including myself at times, that didn’t hold multiple things against multiple people.

But there are some who will have none of it, regardless of the circumstances.

“I’m going back to the U.S. with a kiss on my cheek from a former Nazi.”

in 1944 Eva and Miriam Mozes along with their mother, father, and two other sisters climbed aboard a cattle car and were transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.  Mom, Dad, and two sisters were immediately dispatched while the 10 year old twins, Miriam and Eva were chosen to participate in Dr. Josef Mengele’s infamous medical experiments.

Eva was beaten close to death multiple times, injected with all manner of experimental things, and soon became gravely ill.  It was hoped that she would die so that post-mortem comparative studies might be performed on herself and her twin.  Had she died, her sister would have been murdered.  Somehow they both survived.

Seventy years later, Eva was asked to testify against Oskar Groening, a German SS Officer posted at Auschwitz at the time of her internment – at the time 93 and charged with 300,000 counts of accessory to murder.  If there’s anyone who has a right to hate this guy, seek revenge, live in unforgiveness, it’s this lady.

She went the other way.

How to Forgive Someone Who Doesn’t Deserve it

My forgiveness … has nothing to do with the perpetrator, has nothing to do with any religion, it is my act of self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment.  I had no power over my life up to the time that I discovered that I could forgive, and I still do not understand why people think it’s wrong.  (from NPR “‘It’s For You to Know that You Forgive’ says Holocaust Survivor”)

After her testimony she approached Groening.  They talked, embraced, she asked if he was doing OK, then begged him to find a voice within contemporary Neo-Nazi groups – to talk from a first-hand perspective about the importance of all people.

That was her revenge.

In my almost 50 years of life I’ve been lied to, laughed at, beaten, betrayed, robbed, humiliated, etc., but nothing in my life compares to what this woman endured and forgave.  If someone like Eva Kor can forgive, who now suffers from cancer compliments of Dr. Mengele, I have to believe that it’s within my power to forgive whatever might fall in my lap.

But it ain’t easy. We’ll always be scratching our heads wondering, “how do you forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it?”

Forgiveness is painful.  It forces me to remember the infraction and the hurt it caused.  It’s WAY easier to stay pissed off, play the victim, talk about the perpetrator behind their back, live in anger, etc.  And unforgiveness feels good. It allows me to imagine that I’m “right” and they’re “wrong,” or better, I’m “good” and they’re “bad.”  It’s a wonderful salve for a hurting soul and a very popular method for living a life that truly sucks.

It also feels like a grave injustice to let something go unpunished.  But don’t get me wrong, forgiveness doesn’t mean we forget what happened, or make excuses for people.  We can and should confront, ask for apologies, even mete out consequences.  But in those frequent cases where we don’t get the appropriate response, we’ll have to forgive.

If we don’t, we’ll soon learn that the greatest injustice of unforgiveness is the prison that it places us in.  We surrender so much of ourselves – our happiness, peace, hope, etc. –  so that we might hang on to the evil that was perpetrated against us.

That’s what Eva Kor refused to do, and left me without excuse.


42 Replies to “A Story of Forgiveness that’s Kicking My Ass”

  1. Unforgiveness: ” It’s a wonderful salve for a hurting soul and a very popular method for living a life that no one wants to live.”

    You could have just dropped the mike and left after that first paragraph. That was well-said!

  2. So well articulated!

    I feel that just for the ease it brings, forgiveness is worth a shot but yes, only when one feels ready to forgive. If one tries before one is ready, it actually serves to dig in one’s heels further in the anger/struggle/resistance. When one is tired and exhausted of all the anger (however justified it may be), then one can give forgiveness a shot. Not for anything or anyone else but for the “relief” and “ease” letting go of the anger brings to oneself.

  3. That resonates with me completely. Even though it may sound strange to many (and I can totally understand that as a lot of us, myself included have grown up listening that selfishness is bad) but I want to share that I espouse being selfish.

    In order to understand why I do so, it’s important to look at what selfishness is. Abraham have so beautifully defined selfishness as being “connected to the self”. If you are not connected to yourself, how much value can you give to others?….you cannot give peace to others if you are not at peace yourself….even when travelling by air, the instructions are always to put the oxygen mask on yourself and then on anyone else…even if you look around life as such is selfish – a flower grows by getting the sunshine and water it can get…it never says “I am taking so much of the sunlight or the water from the other plants, let me wither away so that the other plants can thrive.”….

    I would like to share some quotes by Abraham which add further clarity to this topic of selfishness.

    “Selfishness means vibrational alignment with Self.

    And in order to understand that, you’ve got to know who Self really is.

    Self is SOURCE!
Self is Pure Positive Energy!
Self is Worthy!
Self is clear-minded.
Self is healthy.
Self is full of vitality.
Self is EAGER about life!

    And when you are willing to be selfish, which means you are willing to mimic the vibration of Self, which means you’re willing to release the thoughts that hold you apart from that,
and practice the thoughts that cause you ALIGNMENT with that, which simply means you’re selfish enough to care how you feel.

    That’s when they call it selfish. People say, “Oh, you’re so selfish, you’re pleasing YOU.”

    And what they mean is,”You should please me. You’re selfish because you please you, and I’m not selfish because I think you should please me instead of you.” 
There’s some screwy reasoning going on.
And every time it matters to you to please them instead of you, oh, it’s such short-term gain, such short-term gain.

    But when you show yourself that you have the POWER to come into alignment NOT just with who you were before you were born,
but with ALL that you’ve become ever since, NOT just with you and all you’ve become but with Source Itself.

    When you show yourself that by being selfish, which means by reaching for the best-feeling thought you can find on whatever subject that’s active, when you care about being in the Vortex, you care about being in concert with the Energy that creates worlds. And one who is in the Vortex, one who is in alignment with that Energy is more powerful than millions who are not.”

    Some people might ask that wouldn’t being selfish make me be mean to others around me?…some say that they have seen murderers who are so selfish that all they care about is themselves and their feelings…looking at this, how can selfishness be good? Here I want to again quote Abraham from their book – Ask and it is given.

    “There are some who fear that a selfish person may deliberately intend harm to another, but is not possible for someone who is connected to source energy to wish harm upon another – for those vibrations are not compatible.

    Some say, “I saw a picture of a mass murderer and he looked gleeful. He showed no remorse at all. He said he enjoyed what he did”. But you have no way of accurately assessing what he is feeling. You experience your own emotions because of the relationship between your desire and your current state of thought about the subject but you have no way of accurately feeling his emotions. It is our absolute promise to you that no one connected to source energy would ever cause harm to another. They lash out in their defensiveness, or in their disconnectedness but never from their state of connection. You must understand that the ultimate act of selfishness is to connect with self. And when you do that, you are pure, positive energy focused in this physical body.”

    Signing off with yet another quote by Abraham –

    “If we were standing in your physical shoes, that would be our dominant quest: Entertaining Yourself, pleasing Yourself, connecting with Yourself, being Yourself, enjoying Yourself, loving Yourself. Some say, “Well, Abraham you teach selfishness. And we say, yes we do, yes we do, yes we do, because unless you are selfish enough to reach for that connection, you don’t have anything to give anyone, anyway. And when you are selfish enough to make that connection — you have an enormous gift that you give everywhere you are.”

  4. I do not know much about Hebrews and their views on faith but its always nice to learn. Sometimes, one feels a resonance with something and sometimes, one doesn’t which I feel is perfectly okay. All of us are at different points in our journey and what resonates with one person may not necessarily resonate with another which I totally respect.

    The quotes that I have mentioned above are from the teachings of Abraham translated or interpreted (for lack of a better word) by Esther Hicks.

  5. It’s worse for me because I often tend to think when people do me wrong it’s mainly my fault and being bitter and angry at yourself isn’t the easiest thing to get over. This is a great piece.

  6. I’m not sure I agree with this. Forgiveness isn’t a therapeutic self help process. It’s a transaction. How can you forgive when the person never even asked for forgiveness? I agree that she shouldn’t be resentful and bitter and we should always be kind and love, but forgiveness always leads to reconciliation. If her victimizer isn’t the least bit repentant, can you truly forgive them?

    In my own life, I have had to completely walk away from people. I always leave the door open and i’ve tried to reconcile with them. They continued to be abusive and hurtful. The best thing I can do is live my life without them in it. If they ever come to me and ask for forgiveness, I’m open and ready. But they haven’t. So we can’t have a close relationship. They’ve cut off the work of forgiveness. Sometimes it’s very hard for me to know how to love them but I think that space and time is loving. I’m not seeking revenge. I’m trusting that God will fix what is broken.

    It’s actually freeing for me to know that forgiveness takes both parties. For years I was bound up in regrets because they wouldn’t talk to me and I somehow felt that was my fault. I read “unpacking forgiveness” by Chris Brauns and that changed how I viewed forgiveness. We can’t be forgiven by God if we are unrepentant and forgiveness cannot happen when others refuse to repent or if we are unrepentant.

    With that said, loving others has zero conditions and we are always called to do that even when the person is a total ass. Just my two cents on the matter.

    1. I appreciate your thoughts – I have a different take on God though. I’ve been forgiven and will continue to be forgiven for things I haven’t repented of, some of them I’m completely ignorant of. I’m supposed to act like Him….

      1. Yes, that’s where love comes in. And while God does forgive us over and over because we are his, he never wants us or desires that we keep on sinning against him. In fact, he makes a way for that to not happen. I’ve seen him break things in my own life. I’m not God, of course, and I can’t stand in judgment of others like He does–He’s holy, just, and sees all things. But, I don’t think God made us to be doormats either.

        I also think that it depends on the person. For instance, I have a family full of non-christians and they are the ones I was referring to above. They’ve done much harm to me just by their words and I’ve come to a point where I felt I was deteriorating in my mental health because of them. I didn’t want my kids to be subjected to that. So I walked away. Entirely. Haven’t seen them or heard from them in 6 years and honestly, I’m so ok with that because my life is tremendously less stressful without them. But, they continue to say really mean things to me and I hear about it from the one sister I still talk to. So should I just forgive them? Should I just say “hey, that’s ok. Come over and let’s have lunch”. Um, no. And that might sound vindictive, but it’s really not. Because let’s say they opened the door and came to me and said “Hey, I really want to work things out with you” then I would. I totally would. I sent them a letter last year asking that and only one responded (I come from a family of 8, 6 of them I don’t talk to) and she wrote a long letter saying that I should have just showed up to things and that I wasn’t loving and told me I needed to forgive myself. I’m not sure how one forgives themselves when it is their sin, not mine that is hurting the relationship and also, I was trying to love them by opening up the doors of communication. But I can’t expect them to understand forgiveness and reconciliation in a biblical sense because they don’t care for the things of God. The best way I know how to love them is to just walk away and pray for them. That sounds trite or even spiteful, but it isn’t. It’s the only way I know to live my life with abusive people who refuse to care or admit they’ve done anything wrong. And while this is based on a big blow out, it’s really a life-time of abuse from all of them. So sometimes a person has to draw a line. I still think that is loving. It’s not throwing them under the bus or taking revenge on them. It’s simply saying that I’m important and my family is important (my husband, kids) and I’m not going to let their negative stuff affect us.

        With that said, this might look very different with a person who does know Christ. There are still abusive people in the church (lots of them actually) but there is a chance at reconciliation and forgiveness and having closeness if they are truly seeking God and you are too.

        I guess maybe it’s just an argument of word usage. Forgiveness, love, repentance, and reconciliation all have different meanings and I think sometimes people use “forgiveness” when they really mean “love”. I am always called to love. I’m not always called to forgive. I am called to over look wrong. I’m called to not grow resentful and bitter. I’m called to love. But forgiveness is a transaction. That’s my take anyway. True forgiveness always leads to reconciliation with another person. How can you reconcile with someone — be close knit with them or truly bonded to them if humility and repentance don’t happen? Imagine if your spouse did that. Could you really be close? That’s how I view it. Obviously there are little anger and irritations in marriage that we have to overlook but if your spouse cheated on you and then expected you to just forgive them without feeling any remorse, I think you’d have a big problem with that intimately speaking. I would. God wants us always to be humble–both parties–and repentant.

        Ok, I’m off my soap box! lol.

  7. I went to read the article which made more sense. I thought she was simply slapping him on the wrist, but then I read this: “There have been rumors that I have asked to stop prosecution of all Nazis and that is 100 percent incorrect,” she says. “On the contrary, I want all Nazis to come forward and be prosecuted and stand trial and bear witness to help us, the survivors, and the world with the truth.”

    she did not roll over and just pretend it didn’t happen, but she testified against him followed up with loving him as a person. That’s an amazing story. Truly it is. And I applaud her for how she showed loved to the person who caused her the most pain.

      1. I don’t think I implied there’s a way out, but I do believe forgiveness is conditional. I do believe that is scriptural where forgiving without repentance is not.

          1. I just don’t see how it’s scriptural to forgive an unrepentant person. But if forgiveness is asked of you, then there is no way out. You must forgive. That’s what I meant. I think people like unconditional forgiveness because it makes them feel better about things when in reality, it’s just brushing over sin. I’m still trying to work that out in my life–what that’s supposed to look like and I still struggle with my view on it. There are things I do overlook and don’t have a problem overlooking. But then there are things that are done in a pattern of sin and I don’t feel like “just forgiving” a person is good. I feel like it’s really bad honestly. Because I’m just excusing sin and allowing it to grow. I’m saying “yeah, that’s ok you did that” when it’s not ok at all. That’s my outlook anyway. But I admit, I need God to convict me if that’s a wrong view to take. Like I said, I am still working it out in my head and heart and I could be totally wrong.

          2. Alright, you’ve awakened the bibliophile in me – let’s do this – post your scriptures about repentance and forgiveness, I’ll respond with same. You started it, so you get to go first 🙂

  8. My brain is gonna hurt on a Sunday. LOL.

    I’ll have to post some later. I’m in the middle of making lunch. But I can think off the top of my head of Joseph forgiving his brothers when they asked and being reconciled to them because of that act or Jacob and Esau asking for forgiveness of one another and being reconciled again. Sin separates us. Repentance brings us together. Is there an instance in scripture where one was forgiven without repentance? The only verse I know of that is questionable is when Jesus says “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” but Jesus did not say “I forgive them for they know not what they do–he prayed that God would”

      1. I would agree with that otherwise why would he pray it? But he himself didn’t forgive them. Was it because they didn’t repent and ask him? I wonder.

        Ok, so here’s a verse and I’m not sure how to actually think about it because again–the conditional things hangs me up.

        Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Eph 4:32

        The question is, how does God forgive us? I think he forgives us when we humbly ask for forgiveness. We are separated when we sin. I think there are things I don’t know that I do and He forgives those sins or convicts me of them eventually and then I repent. I think the main attitude I see here though is humility. What do you do if someone has no humility? Just forgive them and carry on?

        1. It doesn’t say He didn’t forgive them, I’ve never come across a legit Bible scholar who believes that this wasn’t an act of forgiveness.

          Re Eph above, this doesn’t say anything about forgiveness being conditional on repentance.

          Sorry to shoot all of this down – caffeinated bibliophile here…

      2. Oh and i forgot to also add, I think that after Jesus prayed to forgive them and after he died, I believe his prayer was answered. The centurion for instance believed that he was the son of God. And the thief on the cross, he said would be in paradise for believing in him. So I think he was praying that their hearts would be repentant. Do you agree or think that is incorrect?

        1. I think that’s a stretch, at least from my perspective, but I’m going at this from my bias…

          When he said “forgive them,” if we go with the Greek, it meant the same thing it does in our language. Again, I’ve not come across anyone who’s suggested your view…

          1. It’s more of an insight. I don’t really read a lot of scholars so I don’t know what others think or say. Jesus never specifically said he forgave them. He asked God to do it and it seems like he answered that prayer.

      3. No it doesn’t say that specifically that is why you look at things in context. That verse in Ephesians doesn’t say “conditions have to be met” but you have to look at how God forgives us as a whole, I’d say. What is forgiveness and how does God forgive us? There are conditions to us being forgiven and it is repentance and humility that are those conditions.

        1. I get it that you believe the context of the Bible says something akin to “no forgiveness without repentance.” I’m asking for where you got that context. We need to be careful not to stretch things too far.

          1. 3 So watch yourselves.

            “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. 4 Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

      4. That’s from Luke 17. It does say to forgive but it doesn’t say to forgive willy nilly. Rebuke them to me means you go to that person and tell them. Of course there are times when we don’t feel the need to do that so we can’t expect forgiveness or reconciliation to happen when we aren’t willing to go and tell the person they offended us or hurt us. But it does say they are to repent and then you forgive.

  9. I think forgiveness means we ask God to take away our anger and hate first, then to pray for that person and wish the best for them. I don’t think forgiveness has anything to do with then having that person for a friend and being with them.

    If you have and husband who beats you, you should probably leave, right? Same thing if family or friends are mean/nasty/cruel to you. You must forgive, but we don’t have to stay around them. That is not healthy.

We love comments! Please share your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.