Forgiveness is a muscle that needs to be exercised and it begins by forgiving yourself, according to Danny Abdallah.
In 2020, tragedy struck the Abdallah family when their three children Antony, Angelina and Sienna and niece Veronique Sakr were killed in a car crash.
In the aftermath of the crash, the family said they forgave the intoxicated driver of the vehicle responsible for the crash.
Last year, in remembrance of the “four angels”, the family started i4Give Week to encourage others to forgive.
“When you forgive you’re actually helping yourself out, it’s for the forgiver more than the forgiven,” – Danny Abdallah
For the forgiver more than the forgiven
“Forgiveness is important because you need to be set free from the pain,” Mr Abdallah told Hope 103.2.
“If I have an unforgiving heart and someone upsets me, they actually control how I feel and controls my emotions.
“I start to get frustrated and angry and I start telling stories to myself; it’s about letting yourself go because when you forgive you’re actually helping yourself out, it’s for the forgiver more than the forgiven.”
A muscle to be exercised
However, forgiveness isn’t easy, Mr Abdallah said.
“It’s actually very hard if you don’t practice… And it’s ongoing; it’s like a muscle, the first time you use that muscle it’s painful, but it gets easier and easier as you practice it,” he said.
“It’s a little daily thing… By practicing on the minor stuff, you can then do the medium stuff.
“And after the medium stuff, anything major that comes, which is very rare, because you’ve practiced forgiving those small things you become strong enough to forgive on the major.”
“For us, Leila and I always remember Christ on the cross,” – Danny Abdallah
It starts with you
For i4Give Week, Mr Abdallah would like people to start by examining themselves.
“Look at (yourself) in the mirror and ask (yourself) first and foremost, ‘have you forgiven yourself?’,” he said.
“If you can forgive yourself, it’s much easier to forgive others because sometimes it’s hard to forgive others because the pain of unforgiveness becomes you.
“The power of forgiveness isn’t just about saying ‘Oh, he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness’ – you deserve peace.”
Forgiveness helps those around you
Two years after the tragedy, Mr Abdallah had a surprising conversation with his mother-in-law.
“(She) came up to me and she said ‘when you were able to forgive, you took the weight off all our shoulders’ and we never knew it impacted them like that,” he said.
One of the dangers of chronic unforgiveness is that it can carry on from one generation to the next, according to Mr Abdallah.
“People are watching your every move, the kids watch what you do and (how you deal with) problems and any issues that happen in the house.”
“Because you’ve practiced forgiving those small things you become strong enough to forgive on the major,” – Danny Abdallah
Message of the cross
As Christians, Mr Abdallah and his wife Leila have found strength in the story of Jesus.
“For us, Leila and I always remember Christ on the cross when He says ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they’re doing’.
“I think about what happened to Him, He’s an innocent man, He got bashed, spat on and then hung on a cross and He’s in front of his mother as well.
“This teaches us the power of forgiveness… the way I look at it is the whole world is yearning for forgiveness.
“It’s a Christian message…. but it’s not only for us, it’s for everyone else as well; they need to understand forgiveness.”
“For us, Leila and I always remember Christ on the cross when He says ‘Forgive them Father for they know not what they’re doing’,” – Danny Abdallah
i4Give Week runs from February 1-7, beginning with i4Give Day on February 1 and will include locally-initiated and community-run forgiveness events, along with i4Give Sunday on February 5, a collaboration of Christian churches in Australia.
Feature image: The Four Angels Facebook