What is the Meaning of Forgiveness?

By The Spiritual Explorer | Published 8 February, 2017

Many times in our lives we find ourselves in the midst of long-time battles with ourselves over forgiveness. There are many who have been hurt since childhood with abusive parents. They might find themselves longing to forgive them but found themselves unable to do so. It was not for lack of wanting to do this, but something made them continue to hold onto old bitternesses. They have asked themselves what is the meaning of forgiveness.

Some have even told themselves that they don’t even understand what the meaning of forgiveness is. They say to themselves, how can I forgive someone who has basically ruined my life or made me make choices that stood in the way of success. Trust me however when I say that holding onto the concept of “victimization” is a sure-fired way to not move on with your life.

The meaning of forgiveness

For me the meaning of forgiveness is to let go of grudges and bitterness. This might mean seeing a therapist, friend or counselor who can guide you through this process. And it is a process of letting go for sure. Sometimes the “letting go” involves letting go of the angry person you have known yourself to be. Some think that if they were to let go of their anger, this would mean they would become weak. Au contraire.

Forgiveness becomes a larger act

I think forgiveness is truly a great act. It bespeaks a willingness to get on with your life, to let yourself know that the past will not influence your present. But mostly, it means that you wish a future that is based upon choices you make now and not what you have chosen before.

Those of us who have trod the path of forgiveness know that if you do not practice it, you are the one who pays most dearly. When you hold anger inside your body, your body begins to pay the price. Even from a health standpoint, I think that we know that anger held inside produces gastrointestinal upset in some fashion.

Letting go of resentment and revenge

The meaning of forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. While the act that hurt you might always be remembered, forgiveness helps you to lessen its grip on you. You are then freer to focus on other, more positive aspects of your life. When you set out to forgive, you can begin a new path of compassion. You begin to see how this person to whom you have directed all this anger had difficulties of heir own. They perhaps did not have the insight or the ability to survive in the way you have. This view begins to empower you.

A friend explores the meaning of forgiveness with her mother

A friend of mine recently talked to me of her mother against whom she held some resentment. When she began to practice the meaning of forgiveness, she suddenly put herself in the shoes of her mother. Her mother, she realized, did not have recourse to the education or possibilities that she herself has realized. From that place, the meaning of forgiveness took on a whole new light.

Basically, it’s not that one lets go of the memory of what has been done to them. It is just that they have an opportunity to feel some peace around the problem.

Benefits of forgiveness

Here are some of the benefits of forgiving someone:

  1. Healthier relationships
  2. Great spiritual and psychological well-being
  3. Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  4. Stronger immune system
  5. Improved heart health
  6. Higher self-esteem

Meaning of forgiveness not dependent upon another’s changing

Another aspect arises when your forgiveness is dependent upon the other person changing. If that is your price, then you cannot truly forgive or understand the meaning of forgiveness. The act of forgiveness has no meaning if it depends upon another person changing. In fact, it lessens the strength upon which you must rely to forgive somebody. This requires that you move away from your victimization and release the control and power that you have given to the person whom you believe victimized you.

Peace the reward of forgiveness

Speaking to people who have been able to truly understand the meaning of forgiveness and the benefits they receive thereby, they have all told me that the peace that they have received far outshone any wishes for revenge or hate that they endured.

Forgiveness is a selfish act truly. You must enter the arena of forgiveness wholeheartedly and with no wish for outcome or change. It is you asking to be free in your life of that which you believed contributed to your lesser life. It is when you realize that you are in charge of creating your life, and contributing to your happiness that you will feel a strength abounding.

How about if you are the one who needs forgiveness?

Forgiving yourself is truly stretching the meaning of forgiveness. It sometimes is just easier to forgive somebody other than yourself. You must however avoid judging yourself too harshly. Remember, you are only human and are always trying to do better. Any type of success is dealt with making small steps first and standing on those steps before proceeding. In the same way, by admitting to yourself your faults, you can then move onto changing your behavior.

Final thoughts of the meaning of forgiveness

The meaning of forgiveness is truly about enlarging your vista from a tiny judgment of someone’s flaws into a larger vista of compassion and selflessness. It is a real journey only the spiritually minded can make for it involves an expanse in awareness and consciousness.

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