Someone did you wrong and you’re angry; you’re not just
angry, you’re plotting a way to get even.You can’t wait to
see that so-and-so, and turn the tables on him.

Nations do that, too, on a larger scale; Israelis attack
Palestinians in retaliation for a Palestinian attack which
was revenge for an Israeli attack, which was payback for a
Palestinian reprisal, which was...You see where this is

We read about similar escalations frequently; perhaps you’ve
been a party to an extended personal battle with someone. If
so, who won? Not who was the last person standing, but who
benefited and who lost as a result of the payback cycle?

No one won, if the definition of to win is to feel joy,
peace, calm, or any loving emotion. The best we can feel
while participating in a continuing cycle of payback is a
brief touch of self-satisfaction-nothing like joy. To feel
any of the strongly positive emotions requires forgiveness.

What does it mean to forgive? We usually think of
forgiveness as a generous act which pardons another person
for wrongdoing. In this context, forgiveness is directed
toward another, as in "I forgive you for saying hurtful
things to me yesterday." The forgiver then feels magnanimous
having granted a pardon to the sinner. Often we forgive only
after the sinner has contritely apologized; sometimes we
forgive expecting the apology.

However, one meaning of forgive is to give up resentment or
claim to retaliation. In this context, forgiveness is not
about another person-it’s about us. When I realize that I
feel better when I give up anger and vengeful thinking
toward another, it makes sense that forgiveness is something
I give to myself, not something I grant to another. What
better gift might I give myself than peace, calm, and
serenity? We cannot simultaneously feel anger and peace. We
cannot be serene while planning revenge.

This definition of forgiveness-to give up resentment-gives
meaning to "turn the other cheek." It’s not a passive
acceptance of more wrongdoing, it’s a turning away from the
event altogether. When we give up our resentment and anger,
we withdraw energy from the event-without energy, every
human act shrivels and dies. That’s the meaning of the
phrase, "what you resist, persists."

When we forgive a perceived wrongdoing by giving up
resentment and anger, we withdraw our energy from the past
event and preclude a continuing sequence of revenge,
retribution, payback, and reprisal-we literally starve the
process before it escalates.

Forgiveness is more than a magnanimous act of charity.
Forgiveness is a gift to ourselves-a gift of peace, calm,
and serenity. Forgive and forget allows us to move on to
activities with positive potential-activities with the
possibility of joy.

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TITLE: Forgive and Forget
AUTHOR: Jerry Lopper

COPYRIGHT: ©2004 by Jerry Lopper. All rights reserved

FORMAT: This article is formatted to 61 cpl.