I read an interesting post on Facebook today:
wikipedia has the best definition I have ever come across: "Forgiveness is the renunciation or cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution"
I love this. Cessation of resentment. That's about boundaries and making a deliberate choice. Ceasing to demand punishment. That says, this is done. I will not, I choose not to continue to look back and make you (or me) pay for what has happened. Its almost more an intellectual decision than an emotional one.
It was pretty soon after my marriage officially ended that I forgave my husband. It wasn't a big fanfare of a thing, in fact he didn't likely even know. But what happened was that I took ownership of the stuff that I had done that contributed to the end, and forgave him for his part.
It wasn't easy, oh no, and it took time. But it was also incredibly liberating. I made a conscious choice to let go. It didn't mean forgetting all that had happened. It didn't make the hurts go away. It did however allow me to move forward in to a 'new way of normal'' in my life, and spend less time on the should have/could have scenarios, and more time on the ''now whats''. I made a choice and refused to allow myself to be eaten up from the inside out with sadness or anger. And it did give me some freedom from the insidious mistrust, resentment and bitterness than can so easily become part of a person who has been through a relationship ending.
It also gave me space to look at what had happened more objectively. By making a conscious choice to say ''I forgive you" I could, to a degree take some of the personal stuff out of the situation. Oh it still hurt, a lot, and there were lots of things that still needed resolution, but by effectively sharing the blame (f I can use that word) equally, owning my bit, and allowing him to own his (without me adding my expectation or view of it) it was so much easier to step outside of what was going on.
People noticed. I was asked: how come you have healed so easily from what happened (remember that this was an outside view, but still). And I put it down to forgiveness.
For me. forgiveness is about grace. It says ''I will not punish you for this any more. Yes you hurt me, but whats done is done. I will not allow this thing to hurt you, or hurt me, any longer"
It gives everyone involved a chance to make amends if they choose, or not, if they don't, without demand or expectation from either side.
I accept that the capacity for forgiveness is different for everyone. Some have more this gift than others. And I am truly blessed to have enough to go round. I have exercised it many times. Sometimes I could be accused of being too forgiving. And don't get me wrong, there's always pain where forgiveness goes. Sometimes it comes at great cost indeed.
But I strongly believe that it is the only way forward. Until we are able to forgive others, forgive ourselves, for our human mistakes and fallacies, we cannot grow and develop, let alone step into the potential future that is ahead of us.