Please consider the following quotation from Mother Teresa of Calcutta: “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.” Now for a little homework assignment. Please consider doing one small, seemingly inconsequential act of love toward someone who has annoyed you recently—-maybe a smile or an encouraging word or an act of service of some kind (such as holding a door open for him or her). Practice forgiving through a small act that has great love attached to it.
All right, class, you have a homework assignment today. For a minimum of 10 times today, as you meet others (in the family, at work, or in casual encounters) or pass them by on the street, you are urged to do this:
1) First, see each person without just passing by or glancing casually at him or her.
2) See that there is so much more to this person than a casual encounter will allow you to see. Realize that there is a depth to this person, and this depth is currently not entirely known to you.
3) Next, consider this thought, “The person I am encountering right now, or seeing right now, probably is carrying emotional wounds inside of him or her.”
4) Go farther down that road: “Here is this person with emotional wounds and so he or she is probably carrying a lot of emotional weight right now. Even though burdened in certain ways, this person is bearing up under this weight and functioning well (or at least reasonably well) under this circumstance.”
5) And still farther down that road: “It takes courage to live each day with a wounded heart……and this person is doing just that.”
6) Try then to think this: “There is a certain dignity to each person. Each has emotional wounds and carries these anonymously, quietly, and courageously.”
7) Finally, try to think this: “What can I do to ease this person’s wounds today? Perhaps a little smile, or a comment, or somehow acknowledging this person will help ease his or her pain in some small way.”
Seeing each person as part of the walking-wounded of this world is good preparation for forgiving. You are training your mind in the truth that all carry wounds. When you then apply that principle to those who have hurt you, you are beginning to practice forgiveness. This little homework assignment is intended to strengthen you in preparation for being a forgiver. And even if you have no one to forgive, this little exercise is likely to put an unexpected joy in your heart as an end in and of itself.