We asked readers to share their stories of forgiveness this holiday season. We received some touching responses, which you can read below. If you have your own story of forgiveness to share, you can do so by filling out the form at the bottom of this page. Happy Holidays.
"In January of 2007 at the age of 35, I was finally, very happily, pregnant with my first child. By March, I found out I had stage 3 breast cancer, aggressive and spreading. I had to chose between my life, or that of my daughter's.
"I was afraid, and after much heart wrenching thought, chose my own life. This was a decision which has brought me so much regret that I have often thought of taking my own life to end the torment of guilt. The only reason I didn't was the fact that I had taken hers so that I could live, therefore I forced myself to press on, miserably. I didn't want her to have died in vain.
"The guilt was exponentially more painful than the cancer treatments. After 5 years, I finally decided to seek psychiatric help, and more recently spiritual help. I have finally realized that God has forgiven me, and I am learning to forgive myself. It is by far the most difficult forgiveness to give.
"I still have moments of guilt and shame, but I am slowly beginning to realize that, perhaps, I have been spared for a higher reason. It is just the beginning of this forgiveness journey. I still have a long way to go. But I have come a long way as well. I think once someone can learn to forgive themselves, forgiving others will come much more naturally."
- Tania LaPalme, Prince George, B.C.
"When my birth parents found out they were pregnant with me, they got engaged. Some time before I was born, my birth father left my mom. She ended up putting me up for adoption. When I met her years later she told me what happened. It made me really mad with my birth father even though I didn't know him. This past year, I decided to contact him. He explained to me he had problems with alcoholism and depression while he was dating my birth mother. He never tried to use his behaviour as an excuse for leaving. After learning he has been sober for more then 20 years, I felt he had taken the initiative to be more responsible and learn from the mistakes he made in the past. He asked for my forgiveness and I gave it to him."
- Sarah Marlin, Assiniboia, Sask.
"After Edward and I met, we quickly moved in together and took to playing activist commune: sharing chores, attending rallies, organizing conferences.
"But as militant as we romanticized our relationship to be, it fell apart like a powerful empire. Too immature for an armistice, we incessantly hurt each other. He moved in with his new girlfriend two weeks later, and I closed down our joint savings account. I refused to give Edward his half, dramatically claiming he owed me for emotional damages. I threatened to leave his stuff on the street if he didn't move them out within a week. The only thing left behind was Edward's childhood blazer, which I took when he wasn't looking. Not knowing what to do with it, I threw the blazer in a box and forgot about it for a decade.
"Last year, Edward contacted me through an old blog. After travelling around China, he was returning to Vancouver to tie up loose ends before making the permanent move. I was very thoughtless and selfish in the past, he wrote. While I can't erase that, I can at least apologize and make amends.
"I am not a forgiving person. Forgiveness was for yes people who couldn't see true evil when it pummelled them in the face. I didn't want to be that person. If I accepted Edward's apology, I would be letting myself down. Or would I? The act of forgiving, I realized, is just as scary as telling someone you love them.
I met Edward at a restaurant. He says I look the same, just harder. You're harder than when we were together. That's when it started, I say coldly. In the tense seconds that followed, Edward and I look away from each other, unable to say anything. Slowly, I pull the blazer out from my bag and slide it towards Edward, returning what he left behind and letting go of what I had been holding onto all these years."
- Charlene Sayo