Some Thoughts on Forgiveness

Have you been skeptical about the wisdom of forgiveness?  Here are some benefits that may change your mind.  Forgiveness has emotional and mental benefits as well as spiritual benefits. Forgiveness is cancelling or letting go of a debt that is owed to you.  It is one way of dealing with the mental and emotional damage that is done when another person harms you. Other options for dealing with harm include: retaliation, grudge-holding, passivity, and numbing-out.

Forgiveness is not the same as Reconciliation. Reconciliation is what happens when the person who harmed you admits she was wrong and wants to take steps to repair the relationship.  You then have a choice about whether to enter that process with her.  Reconciliation takes at least two people; forgiveness only requires one.

Forgiveness is not excusing bad behavior by saying, “he didn’t mean it,” or, “She had a bad childhood,” or some other excuse.  Forgiveness is acknowledging that harm was done to you and that it was wrong.  You now have to figure out what to do about this situation.

Forgiveness releases that other person from the debt that is owed to you and lets them be responsible for their own actions.  You don’t hold what he did against him. It is like saying, “This person hurt me and what he did was wrong. I release the debt and he is now responsible to himself and to God for his actions.” In a sense it is like letting go of holding hands with the person who harmed you.  Forgiveness frees you.  You can then ask God to clean out the wounds that were left in your emotions and mind such as resentment, anger, pain, sadness. You can also ask God to comfort your mind, emotions and spirit.

Forgiveness is not the same as trusting the person again. This is one of the reasons people choose not to forgive….for fear that forgiveness will mean they will be unprotected from the person who caused harm. You can both forgive someone and wish her well as well as choose whether to get involved with her again. Over time you can observe the person to see if the harmful behavior was an exception to the rule of how she treats others or if it is a pattern.

Forgiveness is an effective tool for dealing with bad things that happen in life and keeping your mind, heart and spirit clean and feeling light.

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