Parables and Positive Psychology 09/17/20 – Positively Psychological
“But he who is forgiven little loves little.” (Luke 7:47)
The United States is currently in an election year, and the air is thick with slander and vitriol against political opponents. In other words, there is extreme hostility towards political opponents, either among the candidates themselves or among the followers of these potential presidents.
Often, those seeking to damage the reputations of considerate enemies will bring up elements of their past. Instead of offering forgiveness for these offenses, the accuser will hold on to revenge and anger for this person’s ignoble actions.
While this may manifest itself clearly in today’s political climate, we also do so in our own interpersonal relationships. Those who are close to us may be the very ones who ultimately betray us, or someone may take something away from us that we value tremendously. In short, we may feel wronged by the actions of those around us, and we may be inclined to take our anger out on them and seek revenge.
But considering what Jesus says in his parable today, forgiveness is the best alternative to this feeling of bitterness and ill will towards someone. Although this is undoubtedly the hardest path to take, why does Jesus still preach this?
Well, to begin with, the path of revenge ultimately leads to the destruction of relationships, either with the culprits themselves or with the rest of the community involved. This anger and revenge, even if the victim is fully justified, can lead to a sense of isolation from the consequences of ending that relationship and the people around her. To link this with positive psychology, Marty Seligman’s PERMA model clearly illustrates the importance of healthy relationships in our lives. (Seligman, 2018). In fact, “people’s happiness depends on the happiness of others with whom they are connected. This provides a greater justification to view happiness, like health, as a collective phenomenon ”(Fowler & Christakis, 2008). Therefore, the happiness of an individual depends in some sense on the relationships and happiness of those around him. When even a single individual clings to anger and revenge, this can not only be detrimental to the individual himself, but also to the happiness of those around him.
But inevitably, the actions of those around us will harm us, and we will do the same to them as well. And then Jesus invites us to understand the power of forgiveness in our lives, either by offering forgiveness to others or asking ourselves. In Jesus’ words, those who have been forgiven for more of their actions are more likely to offer it to those who did them wrong. So the next time an individual hurts you, remember all the actions that Jesus forgives us for on a daily basis, insofar as you only ask, for even some of the most unpleasant actions. In the words of Saint Paul himself, he laments: “I am the least of the Apostles, unfit to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am ”(1 Cor 15: 9-10). Seeing clearly how heinous his past actions were before coming to God, he was finally able to further strengthen his relationship with him because he needed so much more forgiveness. And by being forgiven himself, he was able to spread the power of forgiveness to those around him. Although often difficult, forgiveness can contribute to a greater sense of well-being for the individual and those around him. No wonder it is considered a strength and virtue of character! (VIA Institute)
I hope these words are of some value to any of you who read them. It is the main motivation behind why I write anything! Feel free to share any experiences about how forgiveness contributed to your own well-being or that of those around you. In the meantime, I hope you are well and stay safe.