Forgiveness is perhaps one of the most misunderstood words in all of Christianity, and yet it is the thing that gives meaning, purpose and power to our faith. I think we need a new vocabulary for most of what we say and do in the course of living out our faith, and forgiveness is a case in point. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean we let them escape the consequences of their actions. It means that we’re going to stop hanging on to our pain, grasping our anger, and tightening our emotional fists around our animosity. To replace the word ‘forgiveness’? I’d suggest ‘letting go’.
Forgiveness is not dependent on the actions of others. Yes, it is certainly easier to offer forgiveness when the perpetrator expresses remorse and offers some sort of reparation or restitution. Then, you can feel as if you have been paid back in some way. …This is the most familiar pattern of forgiveness. In this understanding, forgiveness is something we offer to another, a gift we bestow on someone, but it is a gift that has strings attached.
The problem is that the strings we attach to the gift of forgiveness become the chains that bind us to the person who harmed us. They are chains to which the perpetrator holds the key…
The one who offers forgiveness as grace is immediately untethered from the yoke that bound him or her to the person who caused the harm. When you forgive you are free to move on in life, to grow, to no longer be a victim. When you forgive, you slip the yoke, and your future is unshackled from your past.