As we live our lives we will no doubt face disappointments in our relationships with others.
It can be large scale betrayals of trust or simple commitments that have been overlooked. Whether large or small, these setbacks can build up if unresolved. This is why the practice of forgiveness is so important.
If we know it’s important to forgive, why do we often hold it back? Maybe we feel that forgiveness can come across as a sign of weakness. We may see it as excusing someone else’s bad behavior. Father Moon, founder of the Unification Faith, understood that forgiveness is not just about the other person, but about how when we hold onto resentment it only serves to hold us back.
At the young age of 16, Rev. Moon wrote the poem ‘Crown of Glory’:
Crown of Glory
When I doubt people, I feel pain.
When I judge people, it is unbearable.
When I hate people, there is no value to my existence.
Yet if I believe, I am deceived.
If I love, I am betrayed
Suffering and grieving tonight, my head in my hands.
Am I wrong?
Yes I am wrong.
Even though we are deceived, still believe,
Though we are betrayed, still forgive.
Love completely, even those who hate you.
Wipe your tears away and welcome with a smile
Those who know nothing but deceit,
And those who betray without regret.
O, Master, the pain of loving.
Look at my hands.
Place your hand on my chest.
My heart is bursting, such agony.
But when I love those who acted against me,
I brought victory.
If you have done the same things,
I will give you the Crown of Glory.
Rev. Moon spent his life exemplifying these words, and in the meantime, teaching us all about the true meaning of forgiveness.
Living His Poem
Over the coming decades his application of the poem’s philosophy would eventually bear fruit. In 1982 he was given an unjust prison sentence on false grounds of tax evasion. Yet he carried on his life of selflessness regardless of circumstances and had his imprisonment cut short by five months. During this period, Father Moon became the center of a debate on religious freedom and the prejudices involved in his case were brought to light. In hindsight, his imprisonment has been viewed in regards as a step towards greater freedom of speech and religion with the support of leaders from various faiths. The events of 1982 are but one example of Father Moon bringing victory into the darkest tribulations. It was through his understanding of forgiveness at the tender age of sixteen that he was able to see beyond his challenges.
Seeing the Bigger Picture
Often we can define our lives by our problems. We can blame external forces on the fact that we didn’t become what we wanted to be or accomplish what we had hoped. Forgiveness is a means for us to not stray from our life goals and to see our situations through God’s eyes. Having a heart of forgiveness is a mind-set by which we can see the bigger picture. While small setbacks may hurt us they are usually irrelevant in the long term. Forgiveness allows us to take action on past let downs and to move forward. To have a heart of forgiveness is to be bigger than your setbacks.
People Are More Important than their Mistakes
Father Moon understood that his long term visions made betrayals, however great, seem small. No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. When we choose to forgive someone who has hurt us, it is a sign that we value our relationships and do not demonize others. Through forgiveness we develop compassion and pity for others. We show that in spite of their imperfections we still embrace them for who they are. It means we value people for who they are and not for a mistake they’ve made.
“Crown of Glory” shows us Father Moon’s acute understanding of life’s difficulties as well as a philosophy of forgiveness to help us surmount them. He reminds us that through forgiveness we can free ourselves from grudges that hold us back. He understands that forgiveness is not easy but remains an important stepping stone to personal breakthroughs and victories.
How has Father Moon’s attitude on forgiveness influenced your life? How has the act of forgiveness helped you in your life? How can you relate Father Moon’s example to your own life? Please let us know in comments below!