“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis Smedes
Let’s consider what forgiveness is and what it is not:
- When we are hurt we should strive to understand the hurt as much as we possibly can, and we profit from having someone special at our side to help us to do so.
- Forgiveness is a process, and the words of apology and words of forgiveness will differ in every situation.
- Forgiveness is something very special, actually a gift that we give ourselves and then to the other. Forgiveness is for-giving. Separate the words “for” and “giving.”
- Forgiveness is ultimately always for the forgiver. If we are interested in our own happiness, we forgive over and over again, as Jesus taught us, in all situations and circumstances. All the time, no exceptions!
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean we act as though nothing happened. It doesn’t erase, nor does it continue to highlight, what happened.
- Forgiveness doesn’t mean we immediately forget. If we could, I’m sure wewould. But who wants to waste precious time in recalling a hurt of the past when there are so many wonderful things to experience now and in the future?
- Forgiveness doesn’t cancel civil sanctions.
- Forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. However, it can be the gift that repairs a broken relationship.
- Forgiveness erases hate. Dr. Martin Luther King once said that “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.”
- We need to remember that Jesus distinguished between a sin and the sinner, and that he always forgave first before he healed individuals of their infirmities. Don’t forget the many men and women who sinned and are now saints.
- When we forgive, we begin to feel the love that Jesus feels when He forgives. “Love one another as I have loved you.” “Forgive one another as I have forgiven you.”
- Of course, we also consider the need to forgive ourselves.