Sometimes, we have to learn to let some things go for the simple fact that they’re heavy and draining. It takes a lot of energy to keep a grudge alive. What is forgiveness, then? It’s freedom, hope, peace, love–a gift of life to ourselves. When we forgive, we take back our power to live life fully, deeply.
“Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” – Lewis B. Smedes
May these words help you get rid of bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, slander, and all types of unforgiving behavior… if at least just for a peaceful moment in your day. May you be inspired to choose kindness instead, to be tenderhearted, to forgive another, to forgive yourself, and to forgive how things have unfolded in your life.
After all, what is forgiveness if not a chance to create a better tomorrow from a happier today? Forgiveness is a powerful resource that’s always available to you. As Corrie Ten Boom once so wisely and courageously stated, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hatred. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
What Is Forgiveness?
Forgiveness is a process.
Forgiveness is not a one-time act. It’s not an event. Forgiveness is a process of giving up the old for something new. It’s a series of decisions made over and over again, and oftentimes it’s a struggle, because growth can be painful. There is no set time or range within which you will discover healing; to each their own journey.
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.
Forgiveness is not something you do for someone else, but something you do for yourself. This is about your peace of mind. This is about you, not them. You don’t need to feel like they deserve forgiveness and you don’t need to offer your approval of any wrong-doing. You just need to be willing to forgive anyway because you’re acting based on your own values, not reacting to theirs. Their behavior may not be excusable, but you get to decide whether or not it destroys your peace.
Forgiveness is the belief in new beginnings, and a better tomorrow.
Forgiveness is about recognizing that staying resentful creates an “active echo” of the pain the offender caused. Roberto Assagioli’s words sure do hit the nail on the head: “Without forgiveness life is governed by… an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.” Breaking these chains requires a belief in second chances, not necessarily for the offender, but at least for yourself. It’s never too late to create a new, brighter future from this moment. The tides can change as quickly as your mind does.
Forgiveness is freedom.
Forgiveness is not a “free pass” for others to keep committing wrong actions, but it is the recognition that compassion is both logically and spiritually liberating. It’s about not allowing the pain to take permanent residence in your heart, where you’re reminded with every single beat that the offense is still alive. When you choose to forgive those who have hurt you and the situations which have pained you, you take away their/its power over you. You set yourself free.
Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.
Forgiveness is not a show of weakness, but a display of strength. It takes a strong person to say sorry, and an even stronger person to forgive. We forgive not because we’re weak; we forgive because we are strong enough to know and accept that people make mistakes.
Forgiveness is love.
As John Connolly noted, “There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.” There is a grateful component of forgiveness, which constitutes your willingness and ability to say, ‘Thank you for this experience.’ Forgiveness is, indeed, the highest and most beautiful form of love, and in return for your grace, you will receive untold peace and happiness. It’s a form of divine interaction with your highest self, who is not blinded by the obvious violations of what’s right, but who would instead choose to view these violations as what they really are: desperate calls for love.
What is forgiveness to you? Are there any tools, reminders, practices, or thoughts that help you get into a more forgiving state of mind? Please share your own definitions of forgiveness, experiences, or advice in the comments.
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As Marianne Williamson says, “Until we have seen someone’s darkness, we don’t really know who they are. Until we have forgiven someone’s darkness, we don’t really know what love is.”
Free vintage frame clip art by Angie Makes; coloring and lettering by Aim Happy.