As children, we are taught to apologize to others when we do something wrong.
You smacked your little sister? Broke your best friend’s favorite toy? Told a classmate he was ugly or she was stupid? You are told to apologize. This is supposed to make the person you’ve hurt feel better and ease your guilt.
These childhood lessons make it seem like forgiveness is all about redemption. I hurt you, you forgive me, we both feel better.
As an adult, I’ve learned there’s more to it than that. Sometimes people hurt us and they don’t apologize. They seem indifferent or oblivious. Or they are so angry that it doesn’t stop with the hurt — they walk out on us forever. There’s no desire and possibly no need to make our angry friend feel better about what she’s done, so we don’t worry about forgiving.
When we fail to forgive, however, we give ourselves a new burden. Our resentment at our ex-friend stays with us. Whenever we hear her name, we grind our teeth and our gut clenches. We remember the words she said or relive the painful moment when she betrayed us. We add our anger and hurt to the invisible pack we carry with us everywhere, one more thing to weigh us down.
Forgiving those who seem least to deserve is the hardest form of forgiveness there is —and the most rewarding one to achieve.
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner was you. — L.B. Smedes
Sometimes, forgiving releases the guilt of a person who has done the wrong, and sometimes it doesn’t. But forgiveness frees the forgiver every single time.