C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Everyone says that forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”
The act of forgiveness is not a born trait. It is an acquired virtue. When you have been hurt, and sometimes far more deeply than words can explain, forgiving the person who hurt you is absolutely the last thing you want to do. Because to say, “I forgive you,” is just not enough. You want, no, you demand that the offenders experience the same pain with perhaps a bit more intensity than you experienced. You see simply forgiving the person as some sort of indirect acceptance for their behavior. However, forgiveness doesn’t remove any of the iniquities of the offender. It is the act of forgiveness that releases you from the bondage of pain, and places you on the road to healing. God will take care of the rest.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengence is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by doing so you will heap burning coals upon his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12: 19-21)
In the book entitled Forgiveness, a Catholic Approach by Fr. Scott Hurd (Archdiocese of Washington, DC) reminds us that forgiveness is a gift. “The forgiveness we are called to offer is a decision, a process, and a gift. It is a decision, because by forgiving we choose to let go of any desire for revenge or retaliation, and we free ourselves of the bitterness and resentment that hardens our hearts. Forgiveness is a process, because letting go of resentment takes time; we may need to make the decision to forgive over and over again. Finally, forgiveness is a gift of love that we give freely, without expectations, exceptions, or limitations. It is neither earned nor deserved. When we love the ones we forgive, we wish them happiness, not harm; well, not woe; heaven, not hell.”
Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta said it best,
“If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive.”