Forgiveness is another topic that is common within Christian circles. As Christians, our stories are wrapped up in the idea forgiveness. God has not only forgiven us through Christ but has also called us to forgive one another. Therefore, if so much of our stories involve forgiveness it would probably be a good idea to understand what it is.
There are many mixed understandings of forgiveness. As children we are told to “forgive and forget” or that we should forgive someone even before they say they are sorry. Yet when we grow older we are given the impression not to forgive people right away because it will excuse the wrong they committed. With all these mixed views it is understandably difficult to first understand forgiveness and then know how to exercise it.
First let me tell you that forgiveness is not forgetting, it is not exonerating, and it is not tolerating. Instead, forgiveness is a step toward reconciliation “by letting go of your hurt and your desire for revenge.” When we forgive, we do not forget the wrong but instead choose not to be offended or hurt any longer. Remembering the wrong actually shows both people the level of love and grace within their relationship and discourages others from making the same hurtful mistakes. When we forgive we also let go of our desire for revenge yet uphold the desire for justice in grace. In this way we do not wait for someone to make restitution nor do we tolerate the consistent wrongdoing, but we in grace address the issue and make steps toward forgiveness and restitution.
It takes a humble attitude to extend forgiveness. Just remember that there are times when you need to be forgiven as well. When you do need to seek forgiveness from someone be sure to not make excuses. Instead admit your wrong and once more adhere to reality, in this case, the reality that you have hurt someone or done something wrong. Once you have admitted and asked forgiveness of someone, listen to them express their hurt and emotions and then allow them time to consider forgiving.
In the end, the essential aspect in forgiveness is the attitude of the heart. Just as in becoming a better listener or approaching conflict as constructive, we desperately need to have a heart of faithfulness and commitment to God and others. This loving, gracious, and grateful attitude is what keeps us from demanding justice instead of gently seeking it, dwelling on the many reasons and excuses not to forgive, and avoiding the incident all-together. It is also this attitude of commitment and gratitude that breathes life into us when we struggle to forgive our own mistakes. In such times, we need to remember that God has forgiven us to the greatest degree and that he has provided everything possible for us to forgive others.
Schultze, Quentin. Badzinski, Diane: An Essential Guide to Interpersonal Communication. chapter 8