On Forgiveness

Mother Teresa said “if we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”  For a long time I had the impression that forgiveness was some magical thing.  I thought forgiveness was primarily something felt, like an emotion.  But forgiveness I’ve learned is actually very simple.  Forgiveness is a choice—a choice to let go of past hurts and wrongs in order to heal, to reconcile, and to move forward together towards a better life and future.  Certainly true forgiveness can be accompanied by wonderful feelings of pleasure or relief or peace.  But these emotions are responses to the freedom that the act of forgiveness offers.  And sometimes seeking that freedom is not easy, even though forgiveness itself is exceedingly simple.  Forgiveness can actually require hard work and a persistent commitment to renew one’s choice to forgive, especially whenever the heavy ropes of bitterness or anger or resentment begin to re-entangle us.  This is why “the weak can never forgive” as Gandhi saw it.  “Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”