Written by Randi Fine
“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” ~ Mark Twain
We are all likely to be wronged by others more than a few times in the course of our lives. Living in this imperfect world we will surely find ourselves faced with the dilemma of forgiveness, over and over.
When someone that matters to us is hurtful we will
naturally feel painful emotions such as anger and sadness. We may find ourselves dwelling on the injustice of the situation and holding grudges. Gradually these negative feelings overshadow the positive feelings in our lives, leaving us filled with resentment. This leads to spiritual paralysis and detrimental physical destruction.
The stress of these self-defeating attitudes affects our well being and interferes with our peace of mind. It may wreak havoc on our immune system, raise our blood pressure, and possibly lead to substance abuses used in an attempt to numb the unresolved pain.
By clinging to the pain of the past, allowing the wrongdoing to define us, we allow the joy of the present to pass us by. Life may begin to feel meaningless. If we are consumed by the past, our bitterness may infiltrate and impede every new relationship and every new experience.
Forgiveness is a hard concept for many of us to grasp. On the surface it may seem like we are handing someone a “Get Out of Jail Free Card,” giving them permission to have crossed the line with us. That is not so. We can sincerely forgive someone without excusing their actions.
The decision to forgive is not an easy one. It may be challenging, especially when the wrongdoer does not offer a sincere apology or show heartfelt remorse for their actions.
When weighing a wrongdoing we should always take the other person’s circumstance into consideration. It may help us gain important perspective if we imagine ourselves “in their shoes.” In the end it is our choice whether or not to offer mercy or share our decision to forgive with the person who wronged us.
In our assessment we should also consider how much emotional energy we have expended on the betrayal. Is it proportionate to the offense? Have we over-reacted or carried things too far?
Forgiveness is all about our peace of mind, not about justifying a wrongdoing. It releases us from the grip that hinders our well-being. It takes away the power we have given to the other person, therefore releasing the negative hold we have allowed them to have over us. With that out of the way, serenity and happiness are free to flourish.
In forgiving we commit to healing our wounds, letting the past go, and allowing positive changes to occur in our lives.
Through the act of forgiveness we learn empathy, compassion, and respect for others. We should always bear in mind that there will be times when we will want others to forgive us. We should never ask for something that we are unwilling to give.
In forgiveness, as in every other aspect of living, we should always demonstrate the mercy, faith, and love that we expect to receive from others.