What is forgiveness? The Greek root of the word forgiveness means “to set free”. Psychologists define it as a conscious decision to release feelings of resentment toward a person who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
What forgiveness is NOT. Understanding what forgiveness is not is just as important as defining what forgiveness is. To forgive doesn’t mean denying what happen to you or to condone or excuse offenses. Through the act of forgiving, relationships can certainly be repaired, however, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you.
Why should we forgive? Forgiveness frees us to live in the present, not the past. It’s for our own growth and happiness plus, helps us to tap into our true potential that has been held back because of the past. Allowing you to move on without contempt or seeking revenge. Forgiveness restores good mental health and is the greatest gift you could give yourself.
“If you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves.” ~ Confucius
Whenever we fail to forgive someone for a past mistake or wound, we form a type of prison in our hearts. That person that wounded you will be incarcerated there, only to been seen by you. Many of us have several prison cells within our hearts. Occupied by people that have wronged us throughout our lives. Some of those people imprisoned, have caused multiple wounds. It’s so important to consciously forgive not only the person but also, each individual wound. In the bible, Jesus instructs us to forgive the person’s “trespasses”, not just “trespass” (singular). Once we forgive each wound, we have truly forgiven and hearts will be set free.
“Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.” ~ Matthew 18:27
Are you ready to forgive? Below are five specific steps to lead you to freedom!
1. Open you heart. You must have a heart opened wide and ready to release the prisoners that you have held for so long.
2. Extend compassion to the person that wronged you. Recognize that the person is human, just like you, and show them kindness and compassion.
3. Release the person from your heart prison. This step may be the hardest yet most powerful. Rejoice in it!
4. Forgive each trespass one at a time. Even though you have released the person from your heart prison, you must forgive them for every single wound. One effective way of doing this is to write down each wrongdoing then say out loud “I forgive you for….”. Then throw the paper away.
5. Bless and do good to the person. Again, forgiveness does not mean that you have to include them in your life but it does mean that you should ask God to bless them. If you can achieve this step, you are truly free and have forgiven.
My oldest son, Zachary, shared some of this information on forgiveness with me after returning home from a year-long bible-based men’s recovery program in Franklin, North Carolina. He found so much value in this important healing process. Writing about this topic has been on my mind for quite some time but the words just never made it to paper. I now know why. God was guiding me to wait. The exact words I needed to share would be delivered through my son, a man who was living out this practice of forgiveness himself. I trusted God’s timing and I hope you trust in God’s promises.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” ~ Mark 11:25
If you want to learn more on how to let go of resentment and find peace, check out The Gift of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt. This book gives first-hand stories from those who learned how to overcome the unforgivable! So inspiring!
The Gift of Forgiveness by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt
Do you have an inspiring story of forgiveness? Are you ready to release from your heart prison? I would love to know…