Forgiveness can be a difficult thing to define. Does it mean letting someone “off the
hook”? Is it never thinking about something ever again? Is it paying the prices someone else should pay? It can also be difficult to do. We often think why should I forgive someone, they don’t deserve it and maybe haven’t even asked for it.
In my mind the irony of forgiveness is that it has little to do with the offender. Sometimes we think if we don’t forgive one we have some power over them and perhaps that we are hurting them as they hurt us. I doubt the first part is true but there may be some truth in the latter if they desire your forgiveness. However the problem is that we are hurting ourselves much more than them. Research on the brain and body is showing more and more the impact of both positive and negative contemplating. Choosing to entertain negative hostile feelings toward another tends to release toxins in the body. I have watched individuals in my office over the years whose appearance literally changed from continued negative and bitter thoughts. I have seen individuals who would become enraged at the mention of a parent that hurt them twenty years ago and who had been dead for over a decade. Surely that person’s bitterness is not hurting the parent but only him/herself.
Oddly enough forgiveness is more for me than for the offender. If they want to be forgiven that is benefit for them but even if they don’t want be forgiven I can still help myself. Anger that isn’t resolved become resentment. Resentment that isn’t resolved becomes bitterness. Bitterness that is resolved becomes hatefulness. Each time you become more and more slanted in your view until you see things so distorted you can’t possible be objective.
As the card says your forgiveness won’t change the past. My forgiving someone doesn’t change whether they did a crime or not. It doesn’t even change whether I think the jury or judge let them off to lightly. What it does change is my heart and how I look at people in the future. Over the years I have had a woman say to me in various ways, “Now don’t take this personal, but all men are a bunch of pigs!”. I don’t take it personal. She just came out of a divorce in which her husband left her for someone else. Her anger is her protection at the moment. But if six years from now all men are a bunch of pigs she did not heal, forgive, let go, or move on in some way. Now she, not he, is being hurt by it. I would also suspect the chances having a health relationship in the future with that view are almost nil. Here it becomes very helpful if we can draw from our faith to release our concern to God. Surely He is more objective and fair than we can be. It may also help to remind us that if He could forgive us, to become more like Him, we need to work on forgiving others. Do yourself a favor….give it to God, let go, and forgive.
Use this Card to…
- Clarify the need and importance for you to forgive
- Strengthen your relationship with God to help you do that
- Help you release an old hurt in your life