Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave. – Indira Gandhi
“He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me”—in those who harbor such thoughts, hatred will never cease. “He abused me, he struck me, he overcame me, he robbed me”—in those who do not harbor such thoughts, hatred will cease. - Buddha
Answer the oppression of others with forgiveness. - Mohammed
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him. – Jesus
In the wake of last week’s mass shooting in Colorado, I find myself thinking more than usual about forgiveness … about the remarkable victims and witnesses who have chosen to forgive the perpetrator, about all the people who have bestowed grace upon those who have hurt them in some way.
In every religion, faith, and spiritual tradition, words of forgiveness abound. Forgiveness is an elusive term that escapes us when we’ve been wronged. We view the ideal of forgiveness as synonymous with acceptance, although the two concepts are quite different.
Forgiveness is a choice born out of compassion towards yourself and the person who so wronged you. It’s a decision that frees and empowers our spirit so that we’re no longer held captive by the person who wronged us. It is not a way to accept or permit abuse, violence, or wrongdoing; it is merely a letting-go of the anger and resentment.
When we allow anger to fester, it grows. It becomes a flame that we feed, a raging fire that eventually can consume our physical or mental health, our sense of joy, and any hope for inner peace. Resentment and anger deplete our energy, rob us of life, and disempower our spirits. But, to forgive is to empower your spirit, nurture your health, and open up more space in your life for happiness.
How do we forgive? By internalizing the reality that not forgiving gives power to our assailants and takes power away from us, by seeing the wrongdoer as the sad human being they may be, by replacing thoughts of anger with thoughts of productivity and positivity, and by choosing to do so consciously and compassionately.