Forgiveness. It doesn't always come easy but it is a necessary element to living a joyful life. Why? Because it's hard to be joyful with a chip (or lots of chips) of bitterness on your shoulder. The more chips you've got, the heavier the burden. Let's start by looking at what forgiveness is and is not.
I feel that often forgiveness is a misunderstood term. It's easy to feel, "If they had truly forgiven me, they would _____________________." In reality, that's generally not the case. We can forgive someone without putting ourselves in position to be hurt again by that person. I once heard a pastor explain it this way, "If I allow you to borrow my car and you decide to rob a bank, go on a high speed chase, and total my car, I can forgive you for that. I don't have to stay angry at you or hold it over your head for the next twenty years. But chances are, I'm not going to be giving you the keys to my car anytime soon." Of course, it's likely that person will be in prison for a while, but the point remains and the concept can apply to various scenarios.
We can CHOOSE to forgive anyone for anything. Choosing to forgive allows us to release the burdens of anger, bitterness, resentment, frustration, and other negative emotions we would otherwise hold towards the person who has hurt us -whether they deserve it or not. We can choose to forgive even when an apology is not made. The offending party may not feel any remorse whatsoever. That's okay! Forgiveness is for us just as much (if not more) as it is for them. There's a chance the person we are holding a grudge against doesn't know or care that we are upset. Unfortunately, they may even take pleasure in knowing they get to live rent free in our minds and steal our peace. Ouch. Why give them that?
Forgiveness is making a conscious choice to release negative emotions we feel towards someone who has hurt us.
Forgiveness is not excusing, ignoring, or justifying the offense that was made against us. It is not releasing the person from natural consequences of their actions or enabling them to continue hurting us.
Forgiving others enables us to live a more joyful life. Who do you need to forgive today?
Next Blog (coming soon): Should I Forgive Me?