I hesitate to admit that I am a faithful follower of “Private Practice” but there are lessons to be learned in all aspects of life.

If you follow the show you are familiar with the story line concerning Charlotte’s rape and the aftermath. If not, here’s the brief run down: Charlotte, one of the doctors on the show was attacked and raped in her office. In the immediate aftermath she admits to being attacked (hard to deny considering the bashing she took and the resulting cuts, bruises and assorted injuries); As the story unfolds, she finally gets past that denial and her friends and fiance are of course outraged, angry and looking for vengence (I have no idea how to spell that word, I’ve tried every variation I can think of and the spell checker hates them all).

Long story short, the rapist reappears, in Charlotte’s hospital, with a knife in his chest as a result of an altercation with his girlfriend.

Now it gets really interesting. Charlotte can actually decide whether to save him or not. This is reality — we’re not talking morals here, but gut level emotions. As she struggles with this, one of her friends, Naomi comes to her with advice. Forgive him. That’s how you move on with your life. That’s how you free yourself from the burden of living with this brutality and fear for the rest of your life. Forgive him. Don’t let him die.

In the end, Charlotte does just that. She faces her attacker after he is stabilized and tells him that she forgives him. That he has no hold over her. He no longer scares her. She walks away, I dare say, a new woman. I also figure that she will have to work out that forgiveness over time. But, she made the decision to forgive.

Forgiving is often a very difficult road. Just because you say “I forgive you” doesn’t magically make it happen. I know this. But, to decide to forgive is a first step in the process. It is necessary for the injured party. It doesn’t have to be accepted by the person you forgive. The person doing the forgiving gains as much, if not more that the person being forgiven. If I forgive, I can quit drinking the poison and hoping the other guy dies.

Jesus was definitely on to something here. The Our Father asks that we be forgiven as we forgive others. To me, that strongly suggests that the first steps in being forgiven is to forgive another. Think about it…