Unconditional Forgiveness

“How can we forgive those who do not want to be forgiven? Our deepest desire is that the forgiveness we offer will be received. This mutuality between giving and receiving is what creates peace and harmony. But if our condition for giving forgiveness is that it will be received, we seldom will forgive! Forgiving the other is first and foremost an inner movement. It is an act that removes anger, bitterness, and the desire for revenge from our hearts and helps us to reclaim our human dignity. We cannot force those we want to forgive into accepting our forgiveness. They might not be able or willing do so. They may not even know or feel that they have wounded us.

The only people we can really change are ourselves. Forgiving others is first and foremost healing our own hearts” (Henri Nouwen).

If bitterness is drinking poison and expecting the other person to die, then forgiveness is the antidote. You have probably heard that forgiveness is like unlocking the door to a prison cell to let the prisoner out only to discover that the one inside was you. The other may or may not be aware of any harm done, but you are the one carrying the burden of bitterness and anger. You are the one stuck in the place where you were wounded, unable to move forward.

Jesus doesn’t make forgiveness easy but possible. He also doesn’t give you an excuse to avoid it. We are to forgive as we have been forgiven. In fact, the Lord’s prayer asks God to forgive us just as we have forgiven others. But whatever the price, the freedom that comes with forgiveness is completely worth it.

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