Understanding Forgiveness Part 1
When we talk about forgiveness what does that really mean and how do we go about that process when we are hurt and angry? This can be a very complicated process that not only involves our current emotional state but things we have learned about forgiveness throughout our lifetime.
Lets start with, what is forgiveness? The Oxford English Dictionary defines forgiveness as 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'. Wikipedia says Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. Both of these definitions make some interesting claims such as free pardon, ceasing to demand punishment or restitution. These are emotions that we feel when something is done to us and these are emotions we must let go of in order to start forgiving.
Who is forgiveness for? This is an important question because a misconception about forgiveness is that it’s for the other person, when in fact forgiveness is for you the forgiver. Wikipedia starts off its definition “the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger”, so this is saying forgiveness is a process of ending these feelings. All of these feelings can have mental, physical and social effects on the person feeling them. Resentment and indignation can lead to stress, high blood press and depression. Anger can have all of the same effects as resentment but can also cause a person to lash out at others that have nothing to do with the original incident. After we get all of these feelings we blame the other person for making us express these emotions and feelings. In essence we make a choice to hold on to these feelings and express them to everyone around.
With these facts I think its clear that forgiveness is for you. Forgiveness is the process in which you let go of these emotions and begin to heal. The keyword here being “process”, it is a process that can be long or short depending on the incident. You have to realize that its not going to be over night it’s going to take time.
Making a choice, this is so important because you make a conscience choice to continue to relive the incident. You make a choice to talk about the incident to everyone that will listen. In order to forgive you have to move forward I talked to Counselor, minister, professor Michael Williams about forgiveness and one of the questions I ask is how do you separate the incident from the process of forgiveness; Click here for Michael’s response.Understanding Forgiveness Part 2