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Forgiveness #3 - What Forgiveness IS

What is Forgiveness?

There is plenty on what it is not (e.g. reconciliation). More on that tomorrow.

Forgiveness is a mysterious and complicated experience. It requires giving something undeserved to your offender, and choosing not to forgive saddles you with an emotional burden.

Because of that, the reality of the burden, a fresh understanding of what forgiveness is helps us know exactly what we are agreeing to when we forgive.

Here are three definitions I like, all different. See if one suits you.

1) Forgiveness is a choice we make and the ability to forgive comes from the recognition that we are all flawed and all human. Forgiveness is truly the grace by which we enable another person to get up, and get up with dignity, to begin anew. Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. Forgiveness, in other words, is the best for of self-interest.

2) People, upon rationally determining that they have been unfairly treated, forgiven when they willfully abandon resentment and related responses (to which they have a right), and endeavor to respond to the wrongdoer based on the moral principle of beneficence, which may include compassion, unconditional worth, generosity, and moral love (to which the wrongdoer, by nature of the harmful act or acts, has no right).

3) Forgiveness is emotional replacement of unforgiveness with forgiving emotions. It can begin with changed decisions, thoughts or actions. The memory of the hurt remains, but it is associated with different emotions. The way of forgiveness is hard. In many ways, the destructive path of unforgiveness is much easier than the touch, steely pull of forgiveness.

©2015 Sally H Falwell, PsyD, PC dba Legacy - Assessment, Counseling and Consulting

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