What does it mean to forgive?

The purpose of forgiving is to release our own minds from the pain of held resentment. We do not forgive others because that’s what nice people do. We forgive because it sets our minds free for other things – like living happily in the present.

This is not to say that in forgiving we do not acknowledge a painful relationship or past abuse. Forgiving is not suppressing our emotions or denying unpleasant realities. We have a right and a responsibility to set healthy boundaries for ourselves. Further, forgiving doesn’t mean being close to someone we need to keep our distance from or trying to return to the past to rework it.

Forgiving simply means that we are willing to live our lives from today forward without unwittingly recreating and replaying old scrips that we hold in our unconscious. We forgive ourselves and others with deliberate understanding. It means letting go of our attempts to hurt the person who hurt us. It is our quickest road to freedom.

(Remixed from “Forgiving and Moving On,” by Tian Dayton)

4 thoughts on “What does it mean to forgive?

    1. francine

      1. Do you forgive oterhs easily? Why or why not?Mostly. Its just easier most times to let something go rather than cling to it. But there are exceptions.2. Do you forgive oterhs without strings attached to that forgiveness or do you think it’s part of the process to withhold something from or hold something over someone? (i.e. time?, money, love, etc)Its really the only way to do it which makes it a one way street at times. The only thing I withhold is trust. My forgiveness of your wrongdoing does not mean I have to trust you again. Trust is not given, at least not on the human scale, its earned.3. Do you forgive yourself easily? Why or why not?I was completely incapable of this as a fundamentalist. Fortunately I met Jesus and it just so happened that he wasnt a fundie. What a shock *and* a relief.4. Do you forgive oterhs faster than you would yourself? Why or why not?Mostly not anymore. But at times I do find it easier to forgive someone else. I mean, you aren’t living in their head, you’re living in your own. So mostly you get to see your own screwups replayed in that vast theater of the mind.5. Do you forgive yourself faster than you would oterhs? Why or why not?Nowadays its about the same, it just really depends upon the circumstances at the time.6. Do you feel that there are instances where it’s OK to NOT forgive someone? If yes, what would those instances be?Whenever you find yourself incapable of it. You are *not* god. You may imitate god, but you will never *be* god. Newsflash, this means you are finite, limited, and will come up against moments where you find that even your faith cannot take you any further. Welcome to humanity, nice of you to join the rest of us.7. If you’ve had trouble forgiving someone (or yourself) did you find that it affected you emotionally? physically? spiritually?I was going to say, No, but that’s not true. I was affected spiritually/emotionally: I came face first with my limitations.8. Do you believe that you can forgive someone and NOT have a relationship with them? Why or why not?Of course. Again this is a question of whether you believe you are god or you are human. Human = limited + fallible. God =/= limited or fallible.The other half of this question is, are you really ever *not* in a relationship with someone you need to or have forgiven? Physical contact is the norm, but you can have feelings for or against someone without ever having met them. Thus you are in relationship with them. Perhaps this emphasizes the benefit of forgiveness?9. How would you define “forgiveness” and how do you know when you’ve truly forgiven someone?Hrm. That one’s more difficult. I mean the definition is kind of the word, right? Hated those in elementary school =) Anywho, I would define it maybe as the ability to let it go, to let them go, to release something.I would certainly *not* say that forgiveness is some random choice that I must will myself to make. That, quite honestly, would be a falsehood I would not be able to accept. I would rather have you hate me honestly, then to emotionally rape yourself by forcing forgiveness down your own throat.I would also add that trying to run this on some short term time scale is a mistake as well. You have no idea whether you will not wake up the next morning and find yourself fully capable of forgiveness. Instead of some kind of insta-obedience, perhaps the longer road to forgiveness is the true way of the cross.10. Is there someone in your past or present that you haven’t been able to forgive?Of course. If you want to know more you can email me, because I believe we have spoken about this before.Glad to see you actively writing. Keep up the good work.peaceCarl

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