What Is Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is the business of the heart. It is that simple and that complex. Forgiveness is about letting go of your own arrogance so that you can move on with the affairs of living. Forgiveness is about admitting your own shortcomings and failures so that you can more clearly see both sides of the story. Forgiveness is about no longer allowing other people to control your emotions, for when you hold hatred and bitterness in your heart, the person for whom you harbor that hatred and bitterness controls you. Forgiveness is about accepting that people make mistakes, costly mistakes, and that you make them, too. Forgiveness is about making a decision to never use the other people's acts or comments against them in any fashion; it is about never bringing the act or comment up again. Forgiveness is a canceled check.

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

— Robert Muller

Forgiveness is not about speed. It can, and may, take much time, but true forgiveness can't be rushed or forced. Forgiveness is not about showdowns or final confrontations. It may happen in the privacy of your own mind. You may never again see the person whom you are forgiving. Finally, forgiveness is not about weakness. Weak people are the people who cannot forgive. Forgiveness is the work of the strong. It takes strength and paramount courage to change the heart.

Forgiveness is not simply for the other person; it is for you as well. Researchers at Hope College and Virginia Commonwealth University found that apologies and restitution have an immediate and positive impact on the mind and body. Their study found that apologies reduced heart rate and lowered tension.

Some of the positive benefits of forgiveness include:

  • Stress relief

  • A sense of freedom

  • A feeling of finding “right”

  • Release from hatred and anger

  • A move toward healing

  • Deep joy

  • A feeling of inner peace

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    4. What Is Forgiveness?
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