Monday, July 16, 2007

What a Cuban torture specialist taught me about forgiveness.

What a Cuban torture specialist taught me about forgiveness.

A few months ago, a close friend from church stole thousands of dollars from me and the one client our struggling “ad agency” had. The client was a church that my only living grandparent has attended for about 30 years. It was all together, a pretty disgusting experience.

For a while, I would just get drunk on rage anytime I saw his name on my instant messenger list. I wanted to punch AOL in the face every time he logged on. I am not awesome at forgiveness.

While in Charlotte for said grandmother’s birthday, I overheard my uncle telling my father about what it means to forgive. A few hours later I was able to ask him a couple of other questions on the topic I was clearly failing.

My uncle is a 6 foot 3, carved from stone, retired Air Force Colonel. He’s one of the most Godly men I’ve ever met and when he talks, rooms tend to go quiet. When I told him about the money that was stolen from me, he shared a story from his days in Korea.

While he was stationed there, someone he knew got captured by the North Koreans. While he was sitting in his cell, other American prisoners started to tap out an urgent message to him in Morse code. The faint sounds through the wall told him, “Don’t hate Raul. Don’t hate Raul.” Over and over again, these words were repeated. The message went on to say that Raul was a Cuban torture specialist that had been brought to North Korea to work over the prisoners. (That there is an international network of torture specialists is a little terrifying.)

The message they were so frantic to give this new prisoner was that, yes, Raul was going to torture him, but that was only physical pain. That would end eventually, but it would be the seeds of hate for Raul that would threaten to eventually kill him. It would be his anger and rage against Raul that would eat him like a cancer, leaving him empty long after Raul had stopped the torture.

My uncle thinks holding a grudge is like carrying the offender’s dead body around with you. You have to let it go, or it just weighs on you and suffocates all the good things in your life.

I’d like to say I had a Eureka moment that night talking to my uncle and all my anger toward my former business partner instantly disappeared. It didn’t, but I did write him an email when I got home. I told him I choose to forgive you. You might never ask for it, but I choose to offer you forgiveness.

And now, when I see his name pop up on my instant messenger buddy list and I’m tempted to pick back up his 6′4″ dead body, I remember, “Don’t hate Raul. Don’t hate Raul.”

No comments: