“As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I’d still be in prison.” ― Nelson Mandela
Forgiveness is an inner condition.
Forgiveness must take place in the heart or it is worthless. If we have not forgiven those who hurt us, it will come out sooner or later. But if forgiveness has taken place in the heart, our words and actions will show it. When there is bitterness, it will eventually manifest itself; when there is love, it will manifest itself also. That is why reconciliation is not essential for forgiveness. If forgiveness takes place in the heart, one does not need to know whether one’s offender will reconcile. If I have a genuine heart experience, I will not be devastated if there is no reconciliation. If those who hurt me don’t want to continue a relationship with me, it isn’t my problem, because I have forgiven them. I can have an inner peace.
Forgiveness is the absence of bitterness.
Bitterness is an inward condition. It is an excessive desire for vengeance that comes from a deep resentment. It will manifest itself in many ways – losing your temper, intense anger, high blood pressure, irritability, sleeplessness, obsession with getting even, depression, isolation, and negativity. We must get rid of bitterness, otherwise, the attempt to forgive will fail. How do we know when it is gone? When there is no desire to get even or to punish the offender, when I do or say nothing that would hurt his reputation, and when a truly wish him well in all he seeks to do.
Forgiveness is forgiving ourselves.
Forgiveness means forgiving people, but it also must include forgiving ourselves. One common complaint I hear as a counsellor is: “I can forgive the person who hurt me, but I can’t seem to forgive myself.” This is such an important topic, that I will discuss in my next blog.
Until then, my hope and prayer is that what I have written will challenge and motivate you to forgive those who have hurt you.