Holocaust survivor Eva Kor is famous for forgiving the people that did terrible things to her at Auschwitz during the Second war.

According to Eva Kor “Forgiveness is a life-changing experience. I realized I had power over my life. I had the power to heal the pain imposed on me in Auschwitz by forgiving the people who imposed that pain.”

I shared Eva’s incredible story with students at a recent assembly and talked through key aspects associated with forgiveness in the hope that they would know that self-liberation and power of forgiveness.  Below is a few key points that I shared.

Psychologists have shown that forgiveness leads to:

  • Healthier relationships.
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Fewer symptoms of depression.
  • A stronger immune system and heart health.
  • Improved self-esteem.

Forgiveness does not mean that:

  • You are pardoning or excusing the other person’s actions.
  • You need to tell the person that he or she is forgiven.
  • You shouldn’t have any more feelings about the situation.
  • you should forget the incident ever happened.
  • you have to continue to include the person in your life.
  • you have to let the other person off from the consequences of their actions

So What is forgiveness?

  • Forgiveness involves the choice to let go of a grievance or judgment that you hold against someone else. When you forgive you let go of feelings of bitterness, resentment, and vengeance.  You say… what you did was wrong but I won’t hold it over you.
  • Forgiveness frees us to let go of the past and move live in the present. Unforgiveness harms us far more than it harms the offender. 

How to forgive…

  • Forgiveness is a choice that you make to not hold something against someone any more.
  • Put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try to understand from their point of view why they hurt you. Maybe they’re going through something you don’t know about. Was it a misunderstanding?
  • Think back to times when you’ve made a mistake, or made someone feel bad, and they forgave you. We’re all human.
  • Once you’ve said it, you’re committed to sticking to it.
  • Every time you think about what happened remind yourself of why you have forgiven them and make the choice again.
  • It doesn’t matter if the hurt and anger come back; just challenge those feelings each time. You can’t change what happened, but you can change how you feel about it.
  • Remembering that God has forgiven you and ask yourself whether it is right to not forgive others

What if I still can’t forgive?

It’s okay if you aren’t ready to forgive someone; just take some time to think about it.

If you know that it would be good for you to forgive someone then speak to people that you trust or seek help from a psychologist or counsellor.

Forgiveness isn’t always an easy process, and it’s understandable if you struggle with it but Eva Kor demonstrates that forgiveness is both possible and very helpful.

Eph 4.32 – Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you