“To forgive another person from the heart is an act of liberation. We set that person free from the negative bonds that exist between us. We say, “I no longer hold your offense against you” But there is more. We also free ourselves from the burden of being the “offended one.” As long as we do not forgive those who have wounded us, we carry them with us or, worse, pull them as a heavy load. The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves. It is the way to the freedom of the children of God.”
To truly and fully forgive another person is a beautiful act of liberation as Henri Nouwen states. The decision to forgive is a choice that does not depend on feelings alone and yet when we choose to forgive, we are often freed of our feelings of anger and negativity toward a person as well and that is true liberation of the spirit.
There is a common misconception that to forgive means that all goes back to the way it once was and that if it doesn't, forgiveness hasn't actually taken place. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Genuine and authentic forgiveness can take place while still maintaining distance in a relationship or even while severing ties altogether.
Another quote I like says that " forgiveness does not always lead to a restored relationship" and I feel that is an important point. It can lead to a healed and restored relationship of course but forgiveness can still be present even when a relationship is not healed.
My mother also wrote something once that I feel sums up the concept of forgiveness beautifully: "Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. It does not always mean you forget, especially if you or others were deeply harmed. Nor does it mean what happened means nothing now. What happened, happened. Whether you ever trust that person again or re-establish a relationship has NOTHING to with forgiveness. Some relationships need to be severed. How do we really know we have forgiven someone? When we can ask God to bless that person with faith. good health and peace in their lives."
As for myself, I will not ever withhold forgiveness when asked for as I often need it myself. I forgive fully with all my heart but believe things can presently remain as they are.
The beauty is the lightness I feel in my heart, the liberation of letting go of anger and the very real knowledge that I wish the forgiven person every success and joy in their life. I wish them peace, abundant love and good health for themselves and their family. I wish them only the very best and will be happy for them when life treats them well and sorry when it doesn't. I will pray for their success in every area of life.
It's done for me. I forgive you and I set you free. I wish you only success and happiness.
It's settled and I also am set free. I no longer carry what you did with me. I am not wounded or offended or angry or hurt. I am free.
I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive because I truly, deeply was in great need of it.