What Exactly Does Forgiveness Mean?
Let’s talk about forgiveness and what exactly it is. If you look up the definition of forgiveness, you will learn that it is “the act of forgiving someone”. That doesn’t really tell you much though, does it? With a definition like that it is easy to see why so many of us struggle with this. Let’s look more closely at forgiveness and how you can benefit from learning how to do it regularly.
To get a definition of forgiveness you actually need to look at the word “forgive”. The word forgive is given as: “remit, let off, (debt, person debt); pardon (offence, offender, offender offense)”
I think the quote above is a lot more telling and plain language. Forgiveness involves two or more people and there usually has to be a previous incident that requires or deserves forgiveness. The incident could have been an intentional act of hurt, or, sometimes more often, unintentional. Yes, quite honestly, many times, you may be hurt and the other person is totally unaware that they harmed you. But remember that this means you also could have unintentionally harmed someone too. It happens far more easily and more often than we realize.
The interesting thing is that you might think that forgiveness is all about the other person. Perhaps you’re :
- or sad at something that someone said or did to you.
A Process That Takes Time
Eventually, you might get to the point where you forgive that person. Most likely it will be a process that will take time.
However, when you get to the point where you can forgive and move on something truly amazing happens. You will be EMPOWERED towards a HOPE and a FUTURE.
Suddenly you realize that the only person you are hurting by hanging on to that anger was you. Forgiveness is much more about YOU than it is about the other person involved. You might not believe me now, in the midst of your hurt and anger, but forgiveness is key. It is the key that unlocks the healing that you need inside.
But, realize depending on how deep the hurt is, this is a process that may take some time. Often you need to keep forgiving the same thing over and over until you have truly released it into the Hands of God. I don’t know about you, but I quite often will lay things at the feet of the Lord, to only pick them back up again. Instead of leaving them there and walking away.
So if you do this too, don’t be discouraged. Just keep laying it back down until you can truly just leave it there.
Forgiveness Is A Journey
The act of forgiveness is a journey of coming to terms about an unpleasant or hurtful experience. Some journeys are short, others are long.
So, forgiveness is a journey that allows you to let go and let God. Let go of the pain and hurt and allow God to heal you inwardly and perhaps the other person too.
Remember, the other person may never realize how or what they did to hurt you. In that case, you may never need to outwardly forgive them face to face. This is a prime example of when the act of forgiveness is totally personal and internal. You are the one who is doing the changing and letting go.You may find that you have to stop and do this several times a day for a while. Or perhaps, you find yourself having to stop and forgive the same thing a few months down the road.
Think of it as peeling an onion. Sometimes the hurts reach deep within you. As a result you may need to forgive as the hurt layers become exposed. So, as Jesus said, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until 70 times 7.” – Matthew 18:22 (KJV) Remember, this is a process.
A Startling Realization
Once you’re able to come to terms with the hurt you will come to a startling realization. You will see that the only person you were really hurting with your anger and resentment was you.
Forgiveness then, while a noble act on the outside, is really all about you. It’s about giving you permission to let go and move on. Easier said than done though, right?
Forgiveness is also strange because it is both a conscious willing act and a process involving time and effort. Remember, one of the most precious gifts that God has given each of us is the Gift of Free Will. Only you can decide how you will use your Gift of Free Will on a daily basis and in every situation.
It starts with the deliberate act of deciding to let go of the resentment you’re feeling. Once you make that conscious decision, then you can start the healing process of forgiving. The way you make that happen is to continually forgive and forget until you are truly over the anger, hurt, and pain.
Forgiving Doesn’t Mean Condoning
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you condone or accept what they’ve done to hurt you in the first place. It doesn’t mean that you suddenly agree with what they’ve done or take on their point of view. And it doesn’t even mean you have to deeply trust them again.
Instead, forgiveness is about giving you the peace of mind to move on and get on with the rest of your life.
While this may involve a reconciliation with the person you’ve forgiven, that isn’t necessary.
Forgiveness really is all about you and for you to come to terms with a bad experience. In this way you can get past it. Forgiveness is a very powerful ability and one well worth exploring. A way to receive inner healing and being set free.
Now you know what exactly forgiveness means.