Why does forgiveness matter?

What motivates forgiveness? Often we view it as some kind of concession. We think we are being generous by granting it. However, in truth, we are the prime beneficiaries of forgiveness. When we forgive, we let go. When we forgive, we stop clinging to the pain. Continuing to be angry only makes things worse for us. Why would we devote so much energy to it? Bitterness does not make us feel better. Thus forgiveness is in our own best interests.

Sometimes, when we forgive, we tell someone. This is important. It gives the recipient hope, telling him or her to move on, to leave mistakes behind. However, we can only tell someone about our forgiveness if they are sorry in the first place. Sometimes, they do not think they need forgiving. They may even think that we are the ones needing forgiving. Even if we can’t tell someone of our forgiveness, it is still of vital importance. We forgive to release ourselves. We forgive because holding anger inside ourselves only poisons our minds, and eventually poisons our lives. It may be harder to forgive when the person is not aware of, nor apologizes for, the pain they have caused. However, it is no less valuable to do so.

Forgiveness is not always instantaneous. We do not forgive someone once and be done with it. The hurt may surface again and again. Each time this happens, we resist the urge to lash out, and remind ourself of our forgiveness. This allows us to let go of the pain, which is largely carried on by anger and resentment. Although forgiveness cannot remove a wound, it can and will heal it. That is why it matters.

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