What Is Forgiveness?

How can you really forgive someone, or be forgiven?

Photo by Melanie Stander on Unsplash

I used to believe that forgiveness was quite simple. We all make mistakes, and we all deserve second chances, or multiple chances, to make amends and change our behavior. Who are we to withhold forgiveness when we ourselves so often need it?

Now, I see that forgiveness is much more complicated. Forgiveness without understanding is nice, but not effective.

Perhaps I should qualify that a bit. Both sides need to express an understanding. The person who has asked for forgiveness needs to recognize and express why they behaved the way they did. The person being asked needs to recognize and express why they have been wronged.

Yesterday, as I thought about this idea, I said to myself, “Forgiveness without understanding is putting a bandage over a large wound and taking it off before it has fully healed.” The problem is still there. The wound could fester and get infected, just as people who do not understand, and yet forgive or receive forgiveness will eventually find themselves in the same situation they thought was resolved.

Forgiveness after understanding breaks the cycle. I used to think that I had to forgive immediately. What if something happened to the other person before I forgave them? Now, I know that isn’t fair to myself or the other person. Holding them accountable is much more respectful and demonstrates a confidence in the other person to do the right thing in the future. Holding myself accountable, by making me go through the exercise of understanding my role, demonstrates an increased self-worth.

What about forgiveness being for yourself?

Wise people have advised me that forgiveness is for yourself. While I agree, I would add that forgiveness without understanding is not treating yourself with kindness and care.

The next time you find yourself in a situation where you do not have the other person around to extend forgiveness, don’t forget to try to understand. Counselors are so helpful here. Once you understand, extending forgiveness will stick. You can finally get that person living “rent free” in your head evicted for good.

Although more complicated, forgiveness with understanding is best for the long-term, for your health, and for your life.

This process could be time-consuming, but it seems to me that it could be much more rewarding for everyone concerned.

Thank you for reading!

Read this post and more on my Typeshare Social Blog

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