«Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do’ «(Luke 23:34).
TO FORGIVE OR NOT TO FORGIVE, that is the question. Nowadays, it is difficult to focus on the issue of forgiveness correctly. Let us take, for example, the case of women. In the past, the worst social stigma a woman could carry was to be divorced; today it is a worse stigma to forgive an unfaithful husband and make the decision to continue being married to him. The woman who follows that path faces the incomprehension of family and friends, who consider her weak for not making the decision to separate. But the woman who is living through it knows that this is a bad interpretation, because she knows how much moral and spiritual strength it takes to make the decision to forgive, restore, and move forward.
Forgiveness is not being weak, although the current culture wants us to think this way. From the biblical point of view, this is categorically false. Think of Jesus, for example. Has there been a stronger human being than Him, morally and spiritually? However, He was able to forgive His executioners, because He realized that they did not understand what they were doing!
When someone has hurt us, we wonder if they deserve our forgiveness. Yet it is not a question of deserving but of setting free: to set the other person free from your resentment and to free yourself from bearing that burden; «Forgiveness» comes from the Latin perdonare, which means «to give completely.» What is given is freedom and an opportunity for redemption. Forgiveness is an act of generosity and acceptance of human nature, which is so prone to making mistakes. Forgiveness is a process that, according to psychologists, includes the following phases:
Accepting what has happened. It is not about forgiving for fear of losing the person; that would be a wrong motive. It is about accepting the experience, recognizing the cause of the pain, and making the decision to move forward. It is a mature way of dealing with emotional pain.
Putting ourselves in the place of the other individuals, trying to understand their reasons. Perhaps we will be surprised to think that we would not have acted much differently. That helps in the process of forgiveness.
Remembering that we have been forgiven by other people and that has been vital to our self-esteem.
Forgiveness is an individual decision that can be made with God’s help, through prayer and dialogue. It is not a sign of being weak, but of being brave, and it frees you to continue to live an authentic Christianity.