“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
-Lewis B Smedes
I’m writing today about forgiveness because I feel that it is a very important attribute to have. Yet forgiveness is sometimes a hard pill to swallow, especially if the person you’re forgiving isn’t sorry, that takes strength. You have to be strong to say you’re sorry, but even stronger to forgive. After all, the weak aren’t able to forgive, forgiveness belongs to the strong. You have to have courage and strength to forgive a mistake. Remember, the first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. The first to forget is the happiest. As a bonus, forgiveness also brings inner peace.
It would be a shame to give up on someone just because they made a mistake. We expect God to forgive us, so we should be able to forgive those that hurt us.
I know it’s very hard to forgive sometimes. It kind of feels like you’re rewarding them for what they’ve done. But really, you’re giving them and yourself a gift. It’s not about them getting away with something. When you forgive, you let go of the negative energy that ties you to them. So, if someone stabs you in the back, don’t pull the knife out and use it on them – Forgive.
Someone said that forgiveness is like crossing monkey bars, at some point you have to let go to move forward. I know that forgiveness won’t change my past, but I’m pretty sure it will improve my future. Just remember, we always have three powerful resources available to us: Prayer, love, and forgiveness.
In talking about forgiveness, Bryant H McGill, bestselling author on the subject of human potential says it nicely: “They caused the first wound, but you are causing the rest, this is what not forgiving does. They got it started, but you keep it going. Forgive and let it go, or it will eat you alive. You think they made you feel this way, but when you don’t forgive, you are the one inflicting the pain on yourself.”
According to a 2010 study, the most common unforgiven offenses are betrayals; like affairs, lying, unkept and broken promises, and unkept secrets. You have power over the way you react to wrongs perpetrated against you. Scientists call this ‘Decisional forgiveness’. It is simply you deciding which way you intend to act toward the person who wronged you. It changes the way you feel toward that person, negative emotions giving way to positive emotions. Resentment giving way to empathy, sympathy, and compassion.
The science of forgiveness is very interesting. For example; it’s known that unlike ten and eleven year olds, seven and eight year olds don’t need an apology; they look at those who have apologized and those that haven’t in the same light.
In another study, researchers in the Netherlands poled people as to a time when they either forgave, or withheld forgiveness. They were then asked to jump as high as they could. Now I think this is really cool. Those who forgave jumped highest. About 11.8 inches, while the grumps jumped just 8.5 inches. The disparity comes from the unburdening of holding a grudge.
In the animal kingdom, primates such as Bonobos, Mountain Gorillas, and Chimps often show friendly behavior such as embracing or kissing after confrontations. Goats and Hyenas show similar behavior. In fact, the only species that shows no sign of forgiveness is, drum roll please… The Domestic Cat. Who’d’ve thought?
Samereh Alinejad from Iran, had nothing but retribution on her mind toward the man who murdered her teenage son. But at the gallows, moments before the killer was to be hanged, she made the decision to pardon the man. She is now considered a hero. If Samereh can find it in her heart to forgive, we should be able to.
May you always be
Safe and Comfortable