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A Holocaust Survivor Has A Message For Us On Forgiveness *Weekend Open Thread*

April 29, 2017

I happened to see an article at Faithwire the other day that really struck me.  It was a timely piece since it was about a Holocaust survivor and Holocaust Remembrance Day had just passed. This survivor, Eva Mozes Kor, had just received the highest honor from the state of Indiana for her advocacy work.

But that wasn’t the main point of this article, no. It was that Kor, a Holocaust survivor, offered forgiveness to Mengele, to the Nazis, to the people who killed millions and millions of Jews, and tortured many more. It was her message of forgiveness that was so stunning:

And Kor knows a thing or two about forgiveness and kindness, as she and her twin sister Miriam were taken along with their family to Auschwitz back in 1944 when they were just 10 years old. It was there in the concentration camp that they endured the horrors of Dr. Josef Mengele, a German doctor who experimented on Jews.

[…]

“Nobody ever wants to be a victim but there are victims in the world and if I can give them one gift they can use is to try to forgive and heal themselves,” Kor said, according to WXIN-TV. “That to me is the greatest gift I can give anybody to how to deal with their pain and liberate themselves.”

She also shared some important insights about forgiveness in the aforementioned documentary, including her belief that it “has nothing to do with the perpetrator” nor religion. Instead, she said “It has only everything to do with the way the victim is empowering himself or herself and taking back their life.”

Kor repeatedly stressed that forgiveness is both “self-healing” and liberating. Read more about her story here.

“It has only everything to do with the way the victim is empowering himself or herself and taking back their life.”

That is the key, isn’t it? When someone has hurt us, injured us, betrayed us, until we can forgive them, that hurt eats away at us, giving them even more power over us and perpetuating that hurt so that it is recurring over and over again. Forgiveness is a gift we can give ourselves, as well as to those who ask it of us. That is what I take from what Kor said.

Oh, and that wasn’t all Kor had to say.  She had quite the message for Congress, one that made me want to stand up and cheer. This is what she said:

Eva Kor, 83, who was given the Sachem Award by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, the highest award in the state, asked Holcomb during last Thursday’s award ceremony to help her get a message to everyone in Congress, WRTV-TV reported.

“I would like to tell them we all must stop fighting with each other and try to help one another,” she said to rousing applause. “If they keep fighting, they cannot help the Americans.”

And she wasn’t done there, taking aim at people on all sides of the political divide.

“I don’t care if you are on the left, on the right, in the middle — whatever direction your political affiliation is — you are sent to Congress to help run this country and help the American people,” she added, according to the Indy Star. “If all Americans cannot get along, who on Earth is going to do all the healing in the world? We should serve as an example. We are not an example. We are backstabbing.” […] (Click here to read the rest.)

Amen to that, am I right? Indeed, what good are they doing us, the nation, and the world, when their ire continues to be directed at each other for ideological reasons rather than doing their JOBS for us. For Americans. For America. For the world. If not us, who? We are the beacon on the hill, and we need to bear that in mind as an example for Americans and everyone else, too.

As for Kor, there is no doubt she is one amazing woman to have survived all she did. And for her to still be able to  forgive those who trespassed against her, and so many others, to heal her soul and to stop them from having power over her, is a great lesson for us.

But it isn’t just about forgiveness. It is about grace. Make that Grace.  The other day, I watched a movie entitled, “War Room.” It is a powerful movie indeed. In the clip below, these two women are talking about their husbands, and the struggles they have (had) with them. The older one, Clara, has taken Elizabeth under her wing for spiritual guidance. And oh, does she ever give her that as you will see in the clip below:

We get grace even when we don’t deserve it. That is the power of Grace, and the power of God’s grace for us. We don’t deserve it, but we are given it. We all fall short, every one of us. We are just people, after all, and none of us is perfect.

When we can forgive, let it go, and give some grace to the person or persons who harmed us, what a weight that is lifted off of our shoulders. When we can let go of that hurt, stop rehashing it over and over in our heads and hearts, but open ourselves to the grace and “peace that passeth all understanding,” (Phil. 4:7), oh, my what a blessing that is. To let go of our woundedness, and let love flood our hearts instead, allowing us to forgive, to extend that grace, is a gift beyond measure for both ourselves, and those who harmed us.

I know this is not easy. I know I have carried, and do carry, wounds inflicted upon me by others. But what does it harm them for me to carry those wounds? And what does it do to ME to carry those wounds? It keeps me from having that peace, it blocks my path to healing, it blocks my path to God.

That is not to say people aren’t accountable for their actions, they are. And should be, I might add. But the only ones we can control are ourselves and our reactions to the wrongs done to us. If we can turn them over, pray to let them go, and extend some grace to others knowing we all fall short, oh, what a world that would be…

Unspoken sings about this very thing with their song, “Call It Grace”:

Again, amen to that…

That’s it for me. What are your thoughts on forgiveness and grace? Or the charge to Congress made by Eva Kor? Feel free to talk about any of these things or whatever else is on your minds.

This is the Weekend Open Thread.