Continued from Part I - Why Forgive?
What is Forgiveness?
From the Encarta World English Dictionary:
Definitions of forgiveness (n)
for·give·ness [ fər gívnəss ]
1. act of pardoning somebody: the act of pardoning somebody for a mistake or wrongdoing
2. forgiving quality: the tendency to forgive offenses readily and easily
Synonyms: pardon, absolution, amnesty, reconciliation, exoneration, exculpation
The Oxford English Dictionary
- 'to grant free pardon and to give up all claim on account of an offense or debt'.
There is currently no agreed upon psychological definition in research literature. From a purely Christian percpective, when someone hurts you wrongly, they incur a debt to you. Forgiveness is choosing not to collect the debt, turning it over to God to pay or collect, and blessing the one who owes you.
Easier said than done. The question is -is an apology required prior to forgiving? For most people - we'd sure like to see some humilty and repentance before we forgive them. We want them down a peg or two - at the very least, acknowledging that they know they did something wrong. But should we be waiting for or looking for that?
From a health perspective, studies show that people who forgive are happier and healthier than those who don't. A University of Wisconsin study found "the more forgiving people were, the less they suffered from a wide range of illnesses. The less forgiving people reported a greater number of health problems." (Dr. Robert Enright, Forgiveness is a Choice, American Psychological Association , 2001 ISBN 1-55798-757-2)
Therefore, waiting for an apology might not be in YOUR best interest. It might never come, and you will have wasted your life and happiness waiting for it.
For your own sake as well as the sake of people around you - Forgiveness is choosing not to hurt back, turning the matter over to God, and blessing the one who has hurt you.
Part III - How To: The Seven Promises of Forgiveness -