After my last article in which I pointed out how being angry will only hurt us and how forgiveness is a gift, I have heard from many people asking for clarifications on what I meant. For most people, it is very difficult to even comprehend how can one somebody forgive a person who has done some wrong to you? Do we absolve the person of his crime or wrongdoing? Do we start accepting bad behaviour? In this post, I will try to clear these doubts and list out five things forgiveness is not..
1. Forgiving is not accepting bad behaviour or acts of crime
This is the most common misconception about forgiveness. It is not about accepting bad acts or behaviour by saying that mistakes happen. Any act which is illegal or immoral remains so. Forgiveness doesn’t mean approving of any such act. But at the same time, forgiveness is recognizing that it happened in the past, and making sure we don’t waste even a single second of the future by repenting or pondering over it.
2. Forgiving is not pardoning somebody of a crime
Even if you are willing to, forgiveness is not absolving the other person of a crime. It is not about letting somebody free, it is about letting yourself free. It also doesn’t mean we approve of the same crime again in the future. In other words, it is not about forgetting and pardoning. You can forgive someone and then testify against that person is court. It has nothing to do with justice.
3. Forgiving is not a one time event
There is nothing one time in forgiving, neither does it mean that after forgiving someone, you will not feel the pain of a bad act. If somebody killed your son, the memories will always hurt, and you might have to forgive the offender every time you feel hatred against him to set yourself free. In this sense, forgiveness is more of a journey.
4. Forgiveness is not about doing good or showing mercy
You can’t be more wrong if you think that by forgiving someone, you are doing him/her a favor. Forgiveness is like a gift you give to yourself, not to your offender. If you think you are showing mercy to someone by forgiving, then that is more about looking good than forgiveness. You forgive from your heart, not from your actions. The next time you forgive someone, make it a point to not tell that to anyone (maybe even to that person), that will be real forgiveness which will set you free.
5. Forgiveness is not about the person on the other side
Forgiveness has nothing to do with the forgiven party, it is about you, and how you choose to behave and act. It is not a fine gesture, it is about acknowledging (not forgetting) the harm that was done, and despite of it, forgiving. Forgiveness is freeing yourself of any resentment and ensuring you not waste even a single moment thinking about the past act. It is living like the wrong act never happened.
Always remember, forgiveness is neither forgetting nor reconciliation. It takes one person to forgive, but it takes two to reconcile. You might reconcile or not, but you can forgive nevertheless and be free. And only you can give this gift to yourself.