Forgiveness is for You
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free only to discover that the prisoner was you.” ~Lewis B. Smedes
The power of forgiveness cannot be understated.
That is, depending upon our understanding of what it means.
Having been raised in a traditional Christian household, the notion seemed to carry with it all kinds of theological implications.
I remember finding the whole concept a bit overwhelming and somehow involving death, a distinctly unpleasant association.
It’s taken me a lifetime to learn that forgiveness is not half as difficult a concept as my little girl understanding of it led me to believe.
Here’s what it doesn’t mean:
- It doesn’t mean you condone the offense.
- It doesn’t mean you will forget it.
- It doesn’t mean you necessarily void the consequences of the offence.
- It doesn’t mean things will necessarily be the same in the future.
- Lastly, it doesn’t need to be voiced to the offender. There are many ways to forgive. Sometimes they’re delivered out loud to the person; most often, however, they are not.
Here’s what it does mean:
- It means you let yourself out of jail, not the other person, which makes things easier—for you—in the present and the future, even if it’s a different future than the one you had planned.
- Like sorting through old boxes of clothes or cleaning your closet, forgiveness makes space for new outfits, room for hope that the hurts once occupied. Hoarding happens on an emotional level as well as the physical.
- It acts as an anti-biotic, combating the hurts that take hold inside you—like a virus—when you hang on to them.
- It means you grow both stronger and more malleable over time. A powerful paradox.
- Lastly, it means releasing your need to hear the other person apologise.
Bottom-line: Forgiveness is a choice. And one you make for you, not the person who hurt you.
It might end up benefiting the other person, too, but you’re the big winner in the long run, so maybe we could all do it more often.
The world could use it.