The greatest lesson of forgiveness

Every once in a while, you read a book that profoundly changes your view. It might bring out emotions that lay deep inside you or give you a perspective that you’ve been practically begging to receive. “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand is that book for me.

Kenny and I began a new tradition of reading a book outloud together. “Unbroken” debuted this tradition. Without getting into too many details (I’m really hoping each and every one of you have the chance to read it on your own), the story is a narrative nonfiction featuring Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner prior to WWII who then joins the Air Force just as the war is starting. He experiences a horrific plane crash, which then leads him through unimaginable trials of survival. I don’t want to spoil it for you; it’s too good for you to leave it unread.

When you finally reach the end of the book, your emotions are hard to control and you just want to Google “Louie Zamperini” and read more. Yep, 496 pages just isn’t enough.  We finished it last night and I can’t stop thinking about it. Particularly the theme of forgiveness that is woven throughout.

Louie undergoes some of the most unspeakable forms of human suffering possible. He arrives home after the war full of hatred and resentment; emotionally and physically scarred by his POW camp abusers. However, after an enlightening experience, he is able to forgive the men who made him suffer.

And I can’t stop thinking: If Louie is able to forgive the men who almost ruined his life, why can’t we forgive those who have done far less terrible things to us? It seems that in the U.S. there are too many families who have a member with whom they do not communicate with. Or a friendship that had a “falling out”. Maybe you can’t “get over” what so-and-so did to you a few years back.

Since moving to a land of unfamiliarity, I appreciate those who know me and who have experienced events with me SO MUCH MORE (not that I didn’t appreciate you before!). It seems to me that life is just way too short to not forgive family or friends. Heck, life is too short to not forgive a stranger who “screwed you over.” Or, as Louie puts it, “I think the hardest thing in life is to forgive. Hate is self destructive. If you hate somebody, you’re not hurting the person you hate, you’re hurting yourself. It’s a healing, actually, it’s a real healing…forgiveness.”

If finding forgiveness is on your New Year’s resolution list (or life goal list), I highly recommend “Unbroken”. It puts your entire life into perspective.

Another great way to find perspective? Get outside. Nature always manages to do the trick.


2 thoughts on “The greatest lesson of forgiveness

  1. So Powerful, So Beautiful……..A great lesson indeed!!  Thank you Alison and Kenny.  From Grandma


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