A certain kind of calm takes over your life after you must have released that bundle of negative energy you have been carrying all over the place. But it takes you with the Midas touch to let go, to bottle up the consuming rage.
The reason many of us refuse to forgive is our fear of loss. And there’s no denying that forgiveness requires us to give up attitudes and actions that are important to us.
You are reluctant to let go of the burning negative energy that rage generates. It’s like a fuel that keeps you moving. Without it, you would likely descend into despair and purposelessness because your anger is your purpose.
When you are still smarting from the pain you are not eager to risk being hurt again. You assume that if you forgive the guilty party, there are chances a repeat will occur.
, brings up an important point: Forgiveness does not guarantee the change in the other person’s behavior. Forgiveness is an act of obedience, not a tool of manipulation.
It is a way of cleaning up the grudges and resentments that damage us. Although we cannot stop people from hurting themselves, we can, in some situations (if we the to the offender), guard ourselves against repeated injury.
By removing yourself from the relationship or by changing the rules of engagement, you can limit the person’s ability to continue the hurtful behavior.
Some people have expectations for friends and family that are too high. As years go by, repeated foolish choices and ongoing evidence of serious character flaws devastate those who expect too much.
In such cases, it is necessary to forgive people simply for being who and what they are and to accept that they probably are not going to change.
Refusing to forgive keeps others in your debt. In families, we often see parents who hold some wrong against an adult child, exacting payment in visits, gifts, and favors. Although forgiving feels like an act of surrender, those who’ve done it know it’s an act requiring tremendous strength.
Holding an offense against another person places you in a “good guy, bad guy” picture with yourself wearing the white hat. Imagining that we are better than others makes us feel good.
When you hold people captive to your judgment, you play God in their lives. This places you in an unwinnable wrestling match with your creator.
Some of the greatest obstacles to forgiveness are the misconceptions about what it is. Realizing what forgiveness is, doesn’t make it easier.
Once we understand that the act of forgiving does not compromise our moral standard by condoning the offense, we are in a position to forgive even the worst of sins. To forgive is not saying, “What you did is okay.” You are not justifying the wrong.
When you forgive, you remove the person from your system of justice. To forgive is to recognize that the wrong done against you is a debt of sin. Therefore, in forgiving, you transfer the debt and the recompense from your ledger of accounts.
It would be foolish to erase from mind some of the wrongs done to you. If you were to do so, you would never learn from your experiences and would walk right back into the same or a similar situation, only to face the same disappointments.
What can eventually be forgotten are the raw emotions associated with the event. When we forgive, the terrible memories and feelings gradually diminish.
Trust is earned. It is something you give to those who deserve it. To blindly trust someone who has hurt you is naïve and irresponsible.
If a person is a thief, it is foolish to give such the key to your house. In the case of a pedophile, you would be derelict to hire such as a babysitter. We can forgive people from the wrong they’ve done without extending to them an open invitation to do it again. It is foolish to trust an untrustworthy person.
Forgiveness is a necessary step toward reconciliation, but reconciliation is not necessarily the goal of forgiveness. In fact, there are some situations when reconciliation is not a good idea. It is silly, if not dangerous, to press for reconciliation when the other person is unrepentant, unchanging, or unwilling.
Forgiveness should ordinarily not be required unless repentance is demonstrated and pardon is sought. However, since forgiveness benefits the giver at least as much as the receiver, you simply extend it whether or not the person asks for it.
Forgiving is difficult enough when it involves a one-time transgression. It verges on the impossible when the offense is ongoing. Such circumstances require an attitude of forgiveness, not simply an act of forgiveness.