Laurie M Forbes
Most people believe that forgiving has to do with religious beliefs and values. For the most
part they are correct. However, forgiveness has as much importance and value to the
individual, without bringing religion or values into the equation, as it does for the religious
believer. Forgiveness is a state of mind that the victim embraces.
The real question is: "Why should I forgive my perpetrator or offender?"
The simple answer is: "For your own health and benefit."
The dictionary defines forgiveness this way: to cease to feel resentment against an
offender; to give up claim of requital from an offender or to grant relief from payment. This
shows two elements in forgiveness: giving up your anger in relation to the offence and
offender; and part two, no longer trying to get compensation from the offender (to include an
apology or financial restitution).
In most relationships (the valued ones) a friend can inadvertently hurt your feelings and you
talk it over, an apology is made, and the relationship is mended which restores trust in each
other. When an offender is harming you physically, emotionally, or sexually you do not have
to restore trust in the offender.
When you let go of your anger and expectations of compensation you are emotionally freed
from the event and the offender. Holding on to anger and expectations of compensation tie
you to the offender emotionally – which gives the offender continued power and control over
you. Healing happens when that power and control is eliminated by severing the emotional
tie. Trusting such an offender again is detrimental in that it provides an opportunity for the
offender to offend again.
Forgiving, or letting go of anger and expectations of compensation, frees your mind and
body from the stress of carrying those powerful emotions and essentially poisoning your
body. The old saying: “Holding on to anger is like taking poison and waiting for the other
person to die,” is very true.
The beauty of forgiveness is that the offender does not ever have to know that you have
done so. Forgiveness is a very personal effort to unload emotional baggage, which benefits
you as an individual far more than it would ever benefit your offender.
There is also the aspect of forgiving yourself. If you can forgive your offender for hurting
you, most certainly you should and can forgive yourself for your perceived weaknesses and
faults and for the same reasons.