Mahatma Gandi once said, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Now, when he said this, he wasn’t insulting people who find it hard to forgive others; he was making a commentary on how hard true forgiveness really is. In fact, forgiving someone who has hurt you or wronged you may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do in your life. As imperfect human beings, we tend to want to hold onto the pain someone else has caused us, thinking that the pain will remind us to never allow that person to hurt us again. But the big problem with pain is…well, it hurts.
Physical pain is Mother Nature’s way of telling us something is wrong. It also keeps us from doing anything that might make the pain worse, or make it come back. For example, let’s say you burned your finger on something hot. Not only will you not touch that hot thing again with your bare finger, you also will be very careful touching anything else with that part of your finger until the burn is healed. Now, once the burn is healed, you still won’t touch the thing that burned it, but you can use your finger normally for other things.
Healing is the key.
You see, forgiveness isn’t just about the person who hurt you; it’s about you too. Just because you forgive someone else doesn’t mean you’re letting them off the hook, or that you’re going to act as if whatever they did never happened. But it does allow you to let go of the pain they caused you and move on with your life. It allows you to heal. When you don’t forgive, and you hold onto the pain, it’s like never letting that burned finger heal up. You don’t want to touch anything with that finger because of the pain.
When you refuse to forgive someone who’s wronged you, the pain is always there, even if you don’t realize it, and it affects how you interact with other people when it comes to that aspect of your life, whether it’s friendship, or romance, or business, or anything else. It keeps you from being able to touch anyone else without pulling back just a little because of the pain you’re holding onto from the past. When you hold onto the pain, it does nothing to the person who wronged you, it only hurts you.
Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially if the person who hurt you hasn’t expressed any remorse for their words or actions. But holding on to the pain and grudges of the past is like trying to drag an anchor behind you. It makes it a lot harder to get to where you want to be.
Let me leave you with a quote from renowned author and ethicist, Lewis B. Smedes, who said, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Set yourself free.
Here are a few books on forgiveness: