Forgiveness-What it is!
Forgiveness is a process (which may take a day, a year, or a life time) during which we seek to eliminate from our mind and heart all resentment and hurt feelings that we have because of what someone said, did or failed to do.
Forgiveness is the spiritual surgery we perform on ourselves (with God's grace) to free ourselves from all the venom we feel as the result of a hurt or injustice.
Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves so that we do not remain stuck in the past and in our pain, living as victims of some big hurt or injustice.
When we are able to forgive, we move on from being the victim of our story to being the hero of it.
Forgiveness is the powerful assertion that bad things will not ruin your today even though they may have spoiled your past. (Jean Maalouf).
We know that forgiveness is occurring or has occurred when the distance between our offender and us is a peaceful distance and not a hostile one. We know that forgiveness is occurring when we can pray for our offender, wish him or her well and let go of all desire to get even.
In Matthew 18-21-22, Peter asks Jesus: "Lord, if another member of the Church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times." In Mark 11:25, Jesus says to us: "Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses." Jesus is saying to us that his love and healing cannot flow into us unless we allow it to flow out to others.
For many of us, forgiveness may be the toughest thing we may ever do emotionally and spiritually. It stretches us way beyond what we thought we were capable of. Forgiveness goes against the grain. It seems unnatural. Our lord's command to forgive may even seem repulsive and outrageous, even foolish. Yet forgiveness is what God's word clearly asks of us. In a life time, God will have forgiven us thousands of times. Why would we who call ourselves his followers think we shouldn't have to show the same mercy to those who offend us? An unforgiving heart hurts our relationship with the Lord and hinders his healing from coming to us. Deliberately holding onto hurts and wrongs is a big obstacle to people receiving God's healing on a physical, emotional and spiritual level. Think about it this way, forgiveness is Jesus' medicine for hurts and wrongs inflicted upon us just as mercy is the medicine that heals us of the guilt associated with our sins and wrong doing. Would the Lord prescribe evil or the impossible for us? He prescribes the medicine of forgiveness that steals our peace and joy and wounds us in every area of our life.
In his excellent book, the Healing Power of Forgiveness, Jean Maalouf writes:
....It has also been proven that bitterness, resentment, and anger can be a fertile soil for malignant growths. There are numerous medical records that prove forgiveness and love have the power to dissolve cancers, tumors and other diseases. What the medical records tells us is that, when we are in a state of unforgiveness, our bodies start to manufacture extra chemicals - like adrenaline, adrenocortiotrophic hormone, and cortisone - that build up in the bloodstream.
To choose not to enter into the forgiving process is to choose to give our offender ongoing control over every area of our life, including our physical health. Does this seem smart? I don't think so. Yet, that is exactly what we are doing when we choose not to enter into the difficult process of forgiveness. Just think about it, our offender may have moved forward with their life, they continue to control us, keeping us miserable. Refusing to forgive is a choice to inflict a continuous wound on ourselves.
Source: Fr. Eamon Tobin