On Unforgiveness

Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. We have all been terribly hurt by the harsh actions or words of another. These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger, bitterness and vengeance. But the truth is when you don't practice forgiveness, you may be the one who pays most dearly.

Forgiving isn't the same as forgetting what happened to you. The act that hurt or offended you may always remain a part of your life. But forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness also doesn't mean that you deny the other person's responsibility for hurting you, and it doesn't minimize or justify their wrong. You can forgive the person without excusing the act.

One of the secrets to a long and fruitful life is to genuinely forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed. Did you know holding on to grudges and bitterness results in long-term health problems? To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee. Forgiveness, on the other hand, offers numerous health benefits such as:

Perhaps you noticed the hypocrisy: That every man says forgiveness is a wonderful idea--- until he has something to forgive? But when we're unforgiving, it's we who pay the price over and over. We may bring our anger and bitterness into every new relationship and experience, and perhaps not even know it. Our lives may be so wrapped up in replaying what wrong was done against us that we can't enjoy the present. We grow sour on life. In fact, it may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder, because the murder may be an impulse in a moment of anger; whereas the failing to forgive is an ongoing cold and deliberate choice of the heart.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strongest will. A famous man once said, “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.” Have you pardoned anyone lately? Remember--- those who forgive most shall be most forgiven.

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend, or someone you perceive to be on your team. And it may be particularly hard to forgive someone who doesn't admit they did wrong, or even admit to partial fault. If you find yourself stuck with this situation, it may be helpful to take some time to talk about it with another person. It is also beneficial to pray. Through daily prayer the ability to forgive will come in time. You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you . . . and feel within you the power to wish them well.

Keep in mind that you can't force someone to forgive you. They will need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Forgiveness may even lead to reconciliation, but not always. In some cases, reconciliation may be impossible because the offender has died. In other cases, reconciliation may not be appropriate. But even in those cases, forgiveness is still possible, even if reconciliation isn't.

Forgiveness often isn't just a one-time thing. It begins with a decision to forgive, but because memories or another set of words or actions may trigger old feelings, you may need to recommit to forgiveness over and over again, with the same person. Resist the temptation to keep score, get even, or one-upping. Give the other guy the last word.

And remember this well--- getting the other person to change their actions, behavior or words isn't the point of forgiveness. In fact, the other person may never change or apologize for the offense. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you a lifetime of peace, allowing you to let the past go and move forward with a new life now free of hostility. Notice forgiveness takes away the power the other person had to control your life.

We also have to be willing to forgive ourselves. The more you know yourself, the more you will forgive yourself. If you haven’t forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others? Holding on to resentment against yourself can be just as toxic as holding on to resentment against someone else. Recognize that past poor behavior or mistakes, no matter how grave, never have and never will make you worthless or bad in the eyes of God--- that’s just a trick the enemy wants you to believe. Jesus forgave the thief while on the cross--- He can forgive you and I. For anything. Anything? Anything.

Accept the fact that you and I — like everyone else in this world— aren't perfect. We must accept ourselves despite our faults. We admit our mistakes. Forgiveness of ourselves or someone else, though not easy, will transform our life. Instead of dwelling on the injustices against us and getting our revenge, instead of being angry and bitter, we can live the rest of our days with a peaceful spirit. This is as the Lord intended it.

All we need to do is forgive

More on forgiveness . . . .

Thomas Merton

We do not really know how to forgive until we know what it is to be forgiven.  
Therefore, we should be glad that others could forgive us. It is our 
forgiveness of one another that makes the love of Jesus manifest in our lives, 
for in forgiving one another we act towards one another 
as He has acted towards us.

Luke 11:3-4

...and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive each one who is in debt to us.

Luke 23:34

Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Matthew 18:21-22

You have learned how it was said:   Eye for eye and tooth for tooth.  
But I say this to you:  offer the wicked man no resistance.  On the  
contrary, if anyone hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well.

Mahatma Gandhi

If we practice and eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the whole
world will be blind and toothless.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Lewis Smedes

You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.

Matthew 18:21-22

Then Peter went up to him and said, "Lord, how often must I forgive my  
brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times?   Jesus answered,  
"Not seven, I tell you, but seventy seven times."

CONFUCIUS

The more you know yourself, the more you forgive yourself.

Dolores Huerta

If you haven't forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?

WILLIAM BLAKE

It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR.

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act. It is a permanent attitude.

MOHANDAS K. GANDHI

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

Malcolm Forbes 

Keeping score of old scores and scars, getting even and one-upping, always makes you less than you are.

George Herbert 

He that cannot forgive others, breaks the bridge over which 
he himself must pass if he would ever reach heaven; 
for everyone has need to be forgiven.

C.S. Lewis

Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.

Helen Prejean, csj

In our society, forgiveness is often seen as weakness.  People who  
forgive those who have hurt them or their family are made to look as if  
they are weak, or really don't care about their loved ones.  But forgiveness is tremendous strength.  It is the action of someone who refuses to be consumed by 
hatred and revenge.

Jankelevitch

There is nothing that in the end, that cannot be forgiven, 
but there remains much that is inexcusable. 

Anonymous

Forgiveness is the scent that the rose leaves on 
the heel that crushes it.

Saint Francis of Assisi 

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

Charles Williams 

Many promising reconciliations have broken down because while both parties come prepared to forgive, neither party come prepared to be forgiven.

George MacDonald

It may be infinitely worse to refuse to forgive than to murder, because  
the murder may be an impulse in a moment of heat; whereas the failing to forgive  
is a cold and deliberate choice of the heart.

Francis Bacon

This is certain, that a man that studieth revenge keeps 
his wounds green, which otherwise would heal and do well. 

Paul Boese

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it 
does enlarge the future. 

Josiah Bailey

They who forgive most shall be most forgiven.

Confucius 

To be wronged is nothing unless you continue to remember it.

Do you prefer that you be right or happy?

Bishop Desmond Tutu

Forgiveness does not mean condoning what has been done. It means taking what happened seriously...drawing out the sting in the memory that threatens our entire existence.

William H. Walton

To carry a grudge is like being stung to death by one bee.

Ann Landers

One of the secrets of a long and fruitful life . . . is to forgive everybody everything every night before you go to bed.  

Robert Muller 

To forgive is the highest, most beautiful form of love. In return, you will receive
untold peace and happiness.

Jean Vanier

When we judge, we are pushing people away; we are creating a wall, a barrier.  When we forgive we are destroying barriers, we come closer to others.