What Exactly Is Forgiveness?

“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Let’s talk about forgiveness and exactly what it is. If you look up the definition of forgiveness, you will learn that it is the act of forgiving someone or the state of being forgiven by someone. That doesn’t tell you much, though, does it?

The Jonathan Lockwood Huie quote at the top of this post is a lot more telling than the dictionary definition. Forgiveness involves two or more people, and there is usually a previous incident that requires or deserves forgiveness. What is fascinating is how many people think forgiveness is all about the person who hurt or wronged them.

Perhaps you’re mad, angry, disappointed, or sad about something that someone said or did to you. Eventually, you may get to the point where you forgive that person, but more likely than not it will be a time-consuming process.

However, when you do get to the point where you can forgive and move on with your life, something truly amazing happens. You realize that the only person you were hurting by hanging on to that anger was you.

You might not believe me now, amid the hurt and anger, but forgiveness is much more about you than it is the other person involved. We need to see the act of forgiveness as a journey of coming to terms with an unpleasant or painful experience. Once you’re able to do that, you will realize the only person you were hurting with your anger and resentment was you.

Forgiveness then, while a noble act on the outside, is really all about you. It’s about giving yourself permission to let go and move on.

That’s easier said than done, though, am I right?

Forgiveness is both a singular act and an on-going process. It begins with the deliberate act of deciding to let go of the resentment you’re feeling. Once you make that conscious decision, then you can begin the process of forgiving. The way you make that happen is to forgive (and possibly) forget continually until you are genuinely over the anger, hurt, and pain.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean you condone what they did that hurt or angered you, nor does it mean that you agree with their behavior or share their point of view. Instead, forgiveness is about achieving the peace of mind necessary to move on with your life.

While forgiveness may involve reconciliation with the person you’ve forgiven, that isn’t necessary. Forgiveness really is all about you and coming to terms with a bad experience so you can get past it. Forgiveness is a potent ability and one well worth exploring.

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