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