Barbara E. Kaplan, MHDL

Counseling for Individuals, Couples, Partners, Marriages, Families


Just Something to Consider

on Forgiveness

"When we forgive, we set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was us." 


                                                                ...  Lewis B. Smedes

People can mistakenly think that forgiveness is condoning or excusing the behavior of the person who committed the wrongdoing.  It is not.  If there is forgiveness, it does not mean that the offender won.  It may just be the opposite!  Forgiveness does not mean the doer who committed the ill act is not responsible for his or her actions.  Forgiveness does not mean forgetting the wrongdoing or the wrong doer, accepting the ill behavior or having to reconcile with the offender.

It is understandable in being a recipient of wrong doing to feel hurt, resentful, anger, disgust, bitter, guilt, hate, frustrated and revengeful.  However, allowing these feelings to perpetuate may be at a great emotional toll -  and may be remaining connected to the very thing the person who was wronged may want to be detached from.  Forgiveness is about letting go of the ill feelings, the continued hold and control that this person has on the receiver’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual state – the imprisonment!  It’s the choice to let go of the offender's destructive grip that may free the receiver of wrong doing to move on from the past and embrace growth and balance.  Forgiveness is for the self.  It is about obtaining internal peace regarding the offense.

It may not be easy to forgive.  Just saying “I forgive” does not necessarily mean it is accomplished.  It can be an internal process which may take talking about the hurt and pain, getting validation, self-reflection, understanding the meaning of the hurt with respect to the self and adopting a different perspective.  If a person is stuck in the emotional pain, there is the option of obtaining professional assistance.

 Louis Smedes made a point - but of course, this is just something to consider!