Verb (used with object), forgave, forgiven, forgiving.
- To grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
- To give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.).
What does it mean to forgive someone? Granting a pardon doesn’t mention anything about how one should feel.
- Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
In this Wikipedia definition there is an offender and a victim. That’s very interesting that in order to forgive someone, you would have to acknowledge yourself as a victim. The process is also described as intentional and voluntary. That would suggest that forgiveness takes a conscious effort and only happens when one takes that leap knowingly. But how do we know when we’ve truly forgiven someone? Sure you can let go of vengefulness and wish your offender well, but what if you’re not the victim?
If you are a Cleveland Cavalier fan mildly affected by LeBron James’ decision to go to Miami years ago, is it called forgiveness when you welcomed him back?
Has LeBron forgiven the team’s owner for his hateful letter, or the fans that burned his jerseys? There was probably no real forgiveness going on because both the fans and LeBron’s emotional investment is based on an outcome over anything else. A championship is what most fans and players desire. Winning cures all is the catch phrase.
Does that count in relationships when a parent and adult child no longer see eye to eye? Does winning matter when two grownup siblings have a falling out that can’t be easily resolved? There is no championship to win. When two people decide that their own point and opinion on a certain matter is grander than being understanding of another person’s view, they get stuck at a crossroad. Forgiveness most likely cannot exist when both offenders feel as though they are victims. Isn’t that what happens in courtrooms everyday? A plaintiff sues a defendant and sometimes the defendant counter sues or they simply have their opposing argument ready that says they are not guilty.
What happens when you forgive, but you don’t forget? If you’ve had a supposedly committed lover step out on you and you ended the relationship…but then you got back with that person, have you forgotten what happened? It is possible that you didn’t. Or it’s highly likely that you were both offenders in different ways. Someone’s neglect or disinterest led to another scenario that called for action, and all of a sudden pain ensued for all parties involved. There is the pain that comes from a broken heart and there is also a non-physical torment that can inhabit one’s soul.
When I received the news that a man walked into a prayer meeting at a church and sat with men and women for over an hour before killing them, I was sorrowful. I thought about the families of these people, about my own family and their safety when going into a place of worship, and I thought about the offender. The offender here is clear. Read the rest of this entry »