Photo by Chris Thompson
“The weak can never forgive.
Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
“I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying,
I will not forgive.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Upon arriving in South Africa years ago, Simon Dube, a Zulu man, taught me much about forgiveness. Simon was good at forgiving. As a black man living under Apartheid in South Africa, he claimed,
"Forgiving is the only way I can survive."
Whenever personally struggling to forgive someone for whatever perceived offense, I remember Simon Dube. His personal example of forgiving was the noblest self-sacrificing example ever personally witnessed.
The White Apartheid government in South Africa forced rural Zulu communities off their traditional lands during the 60's and 70's. Simon grew up in his traditional family homestead in Roosboam. He played in view of the “big trees” where underneath four generations of family members were buried. That all changed when the government forcibly removed the entire population of several thousand, relocating them into small concrete block shanties in Ezakheni. The name “Ezakheni” meant, “We build together.” Its name hid a dark history. Simon often mentioned the town name really meant, “We suffer together.”
The small, thin, ageing Zulu man near 70 years old, agreed to teach me his language. Lessons began as a lifelong friendship ensued. Three months after our first lesson, Simon invited me to his home just outside Ladysmith.
During our visit, Simon shared their story. Several times he interjected in his soft-spoken English, “We are all suffering here.” Simon detailed the extent of his suffering, and that of his family, under the government. His single goal was, “To return to my family’s place in Roosboom.” With ten people crammed into a four room 600 sq. ft. house in that crowded shanty town, who could blame him.
Simon taught me the intricate Zulu language of clicks. It took years. As I learned to converse in his mother tongue, I began to see and understand his heart. As the missionary coming from America to teach the truths of Jesus, I think Simon taught me more about Christ than did I. The missionary became the student never able bestow as much in return.
Simon’s immense capacity for forgiveness overwhelmed me at times. To Simon, the government was an oppressor. Simon “prayed for their leaders every day.” He added, “I forgive them (then inflecting his voice upwards) for what they are doing to us.” Listening to Simon pricked my heart in my own struggles to forgive a wayward father’s many offenses. Simon added one of his many personalized Zulu proverbs,
“Unless one prays, one stays suffering in their heart.”
As a theologically trained ordained religious leader, Simon drilled into my own angry deep cavern. Once I inquired, “Simon, but how can one forgive when deeply hurt by another?” Baba looked at me answering my question;
“Only in forgiving can an injured soul find rest.”
Simon living under immense conditions knew more about a restful soul than any 1st World American I ever knew. That included myself.
Perhaps, just perhaps, lack of forgiveness is a major reason for the restlessness existing in so many of our souls today? Forgiving the one, or one's who've offended or wounded us may be a good place to finding rest in our restless world.
Just my Thoughts,
Excerpt taken from:
Son Risings - Discovering and Caring for the Real You - by Don Mingo
Available on in Paperback and Kindle on Amazon
As a young teenage boy, a highlight of my summer occurred at great-grandma's cabin. We called it such because great-grandpa long ago passed away, and only great-grandma was left. Going to great-grandma's cabin was commonly referred to as "going up North." Up North existed a plethora of lakes offering endless activities for summer fun. "Our lake" existed where the family cabin sat on the channel waterway connecting Lake Lawrence and Roosevelt Lake. It was in that cabin we "stayed." Whenever telling of my anticipated summer event to a school friend the inevitable question came, "Where you going to stay?"
Anxiety seems a little like that to me. "Where are you staying?" That little apprehensive unease of certain outcomes you're not quite sure about. Where are you staying? Sometimes those little uncertainties grow into suffocating feelings of helplessness. A "What's going to happen now?" develops into sure inexplicable panic.
Concern grows into apprehension, apprehension into worry, worry into fear, fear somehow morphs into trepidation, and trepidation explodes into peacelessness. That kind of anxiety. If that kind of anxiety visits you, Where are you staying upon it's arrival?
Once I asked a homeless person, "Where do you stay?" He restlessly answered, "I stay nowhere, I stay everywhere." Anxiety seems to bare similarities with that homeless gentleman's experience; at least to me.
Where Do You Stay?
When anxiety reaches unhealthy levels I like to ask myself, "Don, where are you staying right now at this very moment of this experience?" It's a good question to ponder.
In Isaiah 26:3 exists a very helpful Bible verse:
"You will keep in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You,
The word "stayed" is very interesting. Isaiah, the prophet who wrote these words lived in a corrupt cultural decaying period of his nation's history. He faced severe economic and security uncertainties throughout his entire life. "Stayed" in the language Isaiah wrote the above phrase is from the Hebrew word סָמַך (Samak). It is used in a variety of ways. It means to, "to lean, lay, rest, support, put, uphold, and lean upon, sustain, or refresh."
It asks questions, "Where is your leaning?" - "Where is your resting?" - "Where is your refreshing?" - "Where is your supporting?" Or, back to great grandma's cabin, "Where is your staying?"
A good diagnostic question asked when confronting anxiety is, "At this very moment, right now in the height of anxiety, where am I staying?" In other words, "Your anxieties about this or that leans towards, or is supported by what assumptions, thoughts, apprehensions, fears, and trepidation?" Where are you staying; right now?
Here's the truth about great-grandma's cabin. That fond place way up in Northern, Minnesota belonged to my great-grandma. She stayed there; not me. While a place of my staying from time to time, growth, maturation, and health required moving onward. My stayed staying placed existed in another place; my place, not great-grandma's. A place of my own yet to discover.
Finding a secured peaceful stayed staying place in this chaotic crazy world is best captured in the "You" of Isaiah 26:3. At least is seems that way to me.
In "You" is my stayed stay staying place.
Just My Thoughts,
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