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Let’s consider what forgiveness is and what it is not:

  • When we are hurt we should strive to understand the hurt as much as we possibly can, and we profit from having someone special at our side to help us to do so.
  • Forgiveness is a process, and the words of apology and words of forgiveness will differ in every situation.
  • Forgiveness is something very special, actually a gift that we give ourselves and then to the other. Forgiveness is for-giving. Separate the words “for” and “giving.”
  • Forgiveness is ultimately always for the forgiver. If we are interested in our own happiness, we forgive over and over again, as Jesus taught us, in all situations and circumstances.  All the time, no exceptions!
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean we act as though nothing happened. It doesn’t erase, nor does it continue to highlight, what happened.
    forgiveness statues
  • Forgiveness doesn’t mean we immediately forget. If we could, I’m sure wewould.  But who wants to waste precious time in recalling a hurt of the past when there are so many wonderful things to experience now and in the future?
  • Forgiveness doesn’t cancel civil sanctions.
  • Forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. However, it can be the gift that repairs a broken relationship.
  • Forgiveness erases hate.  Dr. Martin Luther King once said that “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only love can do that.”
  • We need to remember that Jesus distinguished between a sin and the sinner, and that he always forgave first before he healed individuals of their infirmities. Don’t forget the many men and women who sinned and are now saints.
  • When we forgive, we begin to feel the love that Jesus feels when He forgives.  “Love one another as I have loved you.” “Forgive one another as I have forgiven you.”
  • Of course, we also consider the need to forgive ourselves.
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” – Lewis Smedes

Basic Truths of the Human Condition

Basic truths of the human condition, as suggested below, will relate to “Jesus as healer of broken hearts” and constitute the path to be taken for the ultimate realization of forgiving and being forgiven:

  1. A human being is basically good. The greatest compliment that can ever be paid a person, in life or in death, is that he or she is/was good.
  2. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God. Nonetheless, every human being is “fallible,” that is, every individual can and does make mistakes. No one is exempt from this reality. A human being will always need to forgive and  be forgiven.
  3. The “Golden Rule” reminds us of a fact that almost everyone accepts as important in living our lives in society. Putting this rule into practice is an entirely different thing, possibly the kind of challenge some would find very difficult to accept.
  4. We are creatures who think. Aristotle described the human being as a “rational animal,” but it’s “how” we think that gets us into trouble. We need someone to walk with us throughout life to support and question our thinking by their own reactions and in-put on various matters. They will hopefully ask us to do the same for them. We tend to make fewer mistakes in life when we have someone walking beside us.
  5. Our vocation in life is threefold: (a) To continue the work of our own creation, with a little help from our friends; (b) To help others to continue the work of their creation, as they also help us; (c) To work together to continue the creation of the world.
  6. There is a difference between right and wrong, good and bad. There is a difference between being moral, immoral and amoral. The attitude that “anything goes” is not an option.
  7. To hurt someone intentionally is unconscionable. To hurt someone unintentionally is always a possibility and understandable.
  8. What a person does, that person becomes. A person might hurt me in a significant way. I can react by holding a grudge within me which seeks revenge. To seek revenge is, as the saying states, to dig two graves – one for the person who hurt me and one for myself.
  9. I am challenged to ask myself whether I have ever hurt someone else. I may desire to be a good person, but do not always succeed in my quest. If I hurt someone, I need to seek forgiveness.
  10. A basic truth of the human condition is that everyone at some time in his or her life will need to forgive and to be forgiven. Everyone needs to accept this reality and what it implies.
  11. Forgiveness is a gift that we give ourselves. Imagine being hurt, and then rehearsing that which led to the hurt, and then forgiving the person who hurt you. “Forgiveness is for the forgiver.”
  12. 1A person who does not forgive allows the wound to fester within one’s spirit, not only affecting one’s personality, but also one’s health. The reaction to a hurt can lead to an anger that is overwhelming, affecting one’s health and ultimately lessening the years of one’s life.
  13. Jesus, as a healer of broken hearts, is the model to follow. Jesus, when asked how many times a person should forgive another, responded. “Not seven times, but seventy-times-seven times. Jesus said we should always forgive. “There is not future without forgiveness.”
  14. The victim needs to tell his/her story and to share with someone what happened and how they feel as a result. They need to understand what happened themselves and need to realize that the roles could be reversed, that is, they might be in need of forgiveness.
  15. Forgiveness is connected to love, the love one has for him/herself, the love one has for others, the love one has for God. Love changes everything. Forgiveness makes everything new.
  16. The prayer Jesus taught us, namely, the “Our Father,” has the words, “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We run the risk of not being forgiven, if we do not forgive.
  17. When we forgive, we need to strive to live positively with the person who hurt us, if there is to be a reconciliation. Forgiveness doesn’t always lead to reconciliation. It might, it might not.
  18. When we forgive, we push the hurt to the back of our memory as far as we can and in time might not remember it as we did when it first occurred. Maybe we can not only forgive, but in time also forget, because of all the good things that keep occurring in the relationship with the one who hurt us.
  19. When we forgive, we assume the role of “Jesus as healer of broken hearts.” “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” Our opportunity to be just like Jesus.
  20. Forgiveness is a process that takes some time – but should not take more time than needed, to enable all concerned to continue to live their lives as fully as possible.
  21. The existential perspective is needed in this discussion of forgiveness: “Who I am is related to who I am yet to become.”