American Heritage Dictionary tells us that to forgive is:
- To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.
- To renounce anger or resentment against.
- To absolve from payment of (a debt, for example).
More strictly, to forgive “is to grant pardon without harboring resentment”.
Forgiveness researchers in the 1990s also included that forgiveness brought about good will toward the person forgiven.
Just as forgiving a financial debt means letting go of what was owed. It is the same in forgiving an injustice. We are letting go of what we expect to get. It might be an apology from someone, an understanding from someone or a punishment. We are letting go of the eye-for-an-eye point of view.
However, it does not mean -to turn the other cheek- nor does it mean, to condone what was done. The offense is not justified in forgiving it. These distinctions are important because, for ages, they have been the major objections to forgiving.
Forgiveness is an act of will, a difficult personal choice that relieves the forgiver of the effects of pain, hurt, resentment and anger surrounding a situation. It is letting go of animosity and ill-will. It is an act of courage because it involves letting go of an upset, even though there is justification for keeping it.
Forgiving is an art. It is a process involving the movement of the heart & mind toward compassion, love, and understanding relieving us of fear, anger and hate. It is the ultimate human decision, which brings us closest to the human and divine ideal of Love and Peace. Thus, it fosters healing of the mind, spirit, and even the body.
Forgiveness sets limit on our negative self-destructive thoughts. The point of forgiving is to be free of the pain of an upset that occurred in the past. Self-forgiveness is also extremely important because the guilt from past actions harms our mind, body and spirit.
It increases rational clarity because it removes emotional upsets and stress that cloud our minds and hearts. With that clarity, rational decisions can be made in all areas of life.
It wipes away the effects of the past regardless of whether it was thirty years ago or 15 minutes ago, allowing us to more fully experience the present moment, which is the only time we really live in.
Forgiveness is the process of taking our power and control back from the other person. We can take back our happiness. Our happiness is dependent on our own actions. It is our decision alone. That decision can be made anytime. Of course, it is easier if the person apologizes or changes his or her behavior, but those things are not necessary for forgiveness to occur.
Find out what forgiveness isn’t: the myth and lies.