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Whether you’re stuck in painful memories or too scared to make a move, forgiveness isn’t always easy. And while some of us can forgive at the drop of a dime, others spend a lifetime trying. Some never forgive at all.

Forgiveness leads to a life of more freedom and peace. But getting there can feel impossible when emotions take over. As long as you hold a grudge, the grudge holds you.

In this episode, you’ll discover how to forgive those who've wronged you and find peace that lasts a lifetime.

Show Highlights Include:

  • The Dave Willis Way to unlock a new level of freedom in your life. (0:30)
  • How to heal and let go of your most painful grudges. (1:26)
  • Why forgiveness is an everyday choice (instead of an anchor to the past). (2:47)
  • The Eddie Jaku philosophy for finding beauty in the grueling first steps of forgiveness. (4:15)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby—and, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Thank you so very much for tuning in today. I want to talk to you about a challenging subject. Forgiveness.

Forgiveness is hard. It's difficult. It's complicated. But it can lead to tremendous freedom. It's been said that when we don't forgive, it can lead to emotional pain, including fear, hate, resentment, and bitterness.
I love this quote from Dave Willis. “Holding a grudge doesn't make you strong; it makes you bitter. Forgiving doesn't make you weak; it sets you free.”
Lewis Smedes said on one occasion, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and then to discover that the prisoner was you.” [01:09.0]

My favorite quote is from Mel Robbins. “Forgive others not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.”
Mental health experts list several reasons why it's hard to forgive. For example, we feel stuck by all those painful memories. Second, the anger and the emotional baggage seem too overwhelming to get over, and, third, we're scared to forgive, with this fear stemming from being hurt again.
Here's one I relate to, a fourth. We feel the person who has offended us deserves punishment. I think that's the one I struggle with the most. I bet many people do as well. But you know what? Holding a grudge, according to psychologists, helps us gain a sense of control and power after feeling hurt or victimized, and it's hard to let go of that control. [02:15.5]

But this is what I've discovered in my life. As long as I hold a grudge, the grudge holds me and it prevents me from going on with my wife. Think about these words. As long as we hold the grudge, that grudge is actually holding us and actually stopping us from any kind of forward progress.
There was a great article in Psychology Today a couple of years ago, back in 2014, and the writers of the article noted the following. “Forgiveness is not saying what happened was okay. Forgiveness is not saying you accept the person who wronged you.” Forgiveness is making a simple choice, not easy, but a simple choice to accept what happened. [03:09.5]

Forgiveness can mean you let go. Forgiveness can mean you step into your present rather than remaining anchored in your past. Friends, wherever this podcast finds you today, I want you to remember a couple of things. You do hold the power to make a choice to forgive, and choosing to forgive is a great display of strength.
It's important, though, that we not judge people who don't forgive, that we not judge people who may be struggling with forgiveness. Truth be told, we all probably struggle with forgiveness at some point in our lives. Forgiveness is a personal journey. I mean, think about it for a second. Some, we know, can forgive at the drop of a hat. Some need time. Some need a lifetime. Some never forgive. [04:06.5]

You might be listening to this podcast today and saying, Rick, I'm tired of the torment, but the truth is I've tried and tried to get over this. I just cannot forgive. What can I do? I bet a number of people feel that way listening, and for those of you who feel this way, let me share the story of someone who found peace, not by forgiving, but by learning not to hate.
I came across this person recently, who said he never forgot or forgave the atrocities upon him and his family. Yet he describes himself as the happiest man on earth and maybe recapping his story might help some of you along your journey today. [04:53.0]

Several months to go, I did a podcast about happiness and making a choice to be happy. It was in that podcast that I introduced you to Eddie Jaku, a man who epitomizes happiness. In fact, Eddie wrote a book titled The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor, and in that book, we discover that Eddie, who presently is 101 years of age, has every reason in the world to be angry.
He should be riddled with bitterness and resentment. This man lost both his mother and his father in the Holocaust. He barely escaped with his own life. Yet, today, eight decades after surviving the horrors of a death camp, Eddie says he harbors no anger, no bitterness, no resentment.
The survivor of Auschwitz summarized his experience during a TED Talk a few years ago, at age 99. He got a standing ovation. I would highly recommend you look that TED Talk up. Just Google Eddie Jaku, J-A-K-U. [06:08.0]

You see, friends, I think that Eddie’s story is absolutely remarkable for a couple of reasons. Number one, I think it speaks to the complexity and the difficulty of forgiveness. But, number two, there might be an option here. There might be an alternative for folks who are struggling in their personal journey with regard to trying to forgive.
I read Eddie's book in one day. His story is unbelievable. His book is amazing. I was first introduced to Eddie after watching an interview of him on the Today Show. Listen to this. Born in 1920 Germany, Eddie's father was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who married and began his family in Leipzig, the center of art and culture, and a place where Jewish people were an integral part of Eastern German society. [07:03.3]

Although the family was Jewish, Eddie said, quote, “Our religion did not seem as important to us as being good citizens. We practiced our traditions. We observed our holidays. But our loyalty and our love was for Germany.” As Eddie says, “We considered ourselves Germans, Germans first, Germans second, then Jews.”
But everything changed following World War I. You’d recall Germany lost the war, slipped into economic ruin. The victorious Allied forces demanded reparations, more money than Germany could pay. This resulted in food and fuel shortages, staggering poverty, massive suffering. German people were humiliated and angry.
The Nazi Party and Hitler promised the German people a solution and they provided an enemy. Hitler’s wave of antisemitism resulted in millions of Jews being killed during the Holocaust. Over a million alone died at odds switch, among them, Eddie's mother and father. [08:11.5]

In his book, The Happiest Man on Earth: The Beautiful Life of an Auschwitz Survivor—by the way, Eddie’s full name is Abraham Salomon Jakubowicz—Eddie recounts the horrific episodes of torture during a seemingly endless journey of one death camp after another, and while he says he will never forgive, he has learned to free himself from the past by not hating his oppressors.
Listen to what he said. Eddie said, “I made a promise to God that if I lived, I would become an entirely new person, dedicating the rest of my life to putting right the hurt that had been done to the world by the Nazis, and that I would live every day to the fullest.” [09:04.0]

Here are three great quotes for you to consider from Eddie's book.
Quote Number 1. “I do not hate anyone. Hate is a disease, which may destroy your enemy, but it will also destroy you in the process.”
Quote Number 2. “Happiness does not fall from the sky. Happiness is in your hands.”
Quote Number 3. “Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It's up to you.”
Eddie Jaku who found peace by not hating his oppressor. Wherever you are in your forgiveness journey, my prayer is that, at some point, you can forgive. If you choose not to forgive, I pray that at least you can find peace, perhaps even by following the example of a Holocaust survivor who made a simple choice, happiness over hate. [10:05.3]

Think about these things for a few moments, maybe even for a few days, friends, because I wish to tell you that this notion of forgiveness does not come with a rubber stamp. Despite what some may claim in our society, it's not instantaneous often. It's not easy. It is filled with complexity. It is very challenging and some of us need some initial first steps to get started. Perhaps that's what Eddie can offer us today. Some initial first steps toward forgiveness by saying, “I am going to choose happiness over hate.” Let's dwell on these words for a few days.
That’s going to do it for this episode. Until we meet again, this is Dr. Rick, asking the most important question I can ask, how you livin’? [11:03.8]

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout”, absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/FreeGift to get the print or audiobook right now.

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