Forgiveness does not come naturally and it is difficult to really understand the meaning of forgiveness. Forgiving, forgetting and moving on are all important aspects of forgiveness.
On a winter morning in 1944, the Gestapo raided the home of Casper ten Boom. Casper and his two daughters had quietly sheltered Jews during the German occupation. Casper ten Boom died a few days after the raid and the girls, Betsie and Corrie found themselves on a train bound for a dreaded concentration camp. There, the sisters were starved, beaten and subjected to forced labor - all because of a stranger named Jan Vogel. It was he who betrayed them to the Nazis.
In the midst of betrayal and mistreatment the character quality of forgiveness may seem impossible. That was Corrie ten Boom's initial feeling - she hated Jan Vogel. She was so consumed with anger that she became ill and was unable to sleep. Yet Betsie expressed no rage. "Don't you feel anything about Jan Vogel?" Corrie asked her sister. "Oh, yes, Corrie, terribly!" Betsie replied. "I've felt for him ever since I knew - and pray for him whenever his name comes to mind. How dreadfully he must be suffering!"
Thus Betsie taught Corrie a different response to cruelty. Betsie realized she could not control her circumstances or the people involved, but she could control her response. Though forgiveness was not easy, Corrie knew it was the right decision and at last, in the midst of the concentration camp, Corrie let go of her anger. This change in attitude is the cornerstone of forgiveness. It did not change the brutality she experienced or the betrayal by Jan Vogel, but it did change Corrie.
However difficult it may seem, true forgiveness begins when we let go of anger and seek restoration - not revenge. Corrie ten Boom often spoke of forgiveness as a "cold-blooded decision." It is not an attitude that is felt, but one that is decided. In the face of an offender, the feeling of forgiveness may not come until you make the decision to let go of your anger and forgive. Forgiveness is a choice. Is there someone you need to choose to forgive?
At home, discuss the story of Corrie ten Boom with your children. Talk about the importance of choosing to forgive in order to move on.
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