The Gift of Forgiveness

We eagerly seek out websites and shops to buy gifts for each other, especially during special occasions. If only we would search our hearts for the gift of forgiveness instead, how different our lives and world would be.

Why Forgive?

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”

– Catherine Ponder

I remember resenting someone so much that seeing that person laugh made me seethe. What right had she got to be happy when I was still suffering from the wrong she did me? I felt like a puppet – any movement she made pulled on my strings and my emotions got jerked around uncontrollably.

In ancient Aramaic, ‘forgiveness’ means to untie or let loose. By giving that person the gift of forgiveness, I untied the puppet strings and was no longer prisoner to someone else’s actions.

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

– Lewis B Smedes

How to Forgive?

“True forgiveness is not an action after the fact, it is an attitude with which you enter each moment.”

– David Ridge

The gift of forgiveness is impossible when you are filled with anger and resentment. So I stopped pursuing the “how” of forgiveness, and started work on the “who.” Instead of DOING forgiveness, I worked on BEING a forgiving person. Just as kindness comes more naturally to kind people, forgiveness comes easier to forgiving people.

What kind of person is naturally forgiving? Probably a highly evolved person. Think about Jesus Christ, Buddha, Nelson Mandela, that cheerful old lady down the street. Forgiveness is a big task. Trying to forgive when we’re less evolved is like a sapling bending under the weight of a treehouse. A mature oak will much more easily bear that weight. So we just have to keep at the slow process of growing.

“It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are, the more gentle and quiet we become towards the defects of others.”

– Joseph Addison

When to forgive?

“I worry about fast forgivers. They tend to forgive quickly in order to avoid their pain. Or they forgive fast in order to gain an advantage over the people they forgive. And their instant forgiving only makes things worse… People who have been wronged badly and wounded deeply should give themselves time and space before they forgive… There is a right moment to forgive.”

– Lewis B Smedes

We feel guilty when we cannot forgive, because forgiveness feels like a moral obligation. If you’re like me, you need lots of space when I’m hurt or angry, and don’t want to see or talk to the other person. I used to feel bad about this, until I learnt to honour my emotional make-up. And I’ve learnt that if the friendship was true, that person will still be there when I’m ready with my gift of forgiveness.

I’ve found that there is usually a crystal clear moment when I know forgiveness is ripe for giving. I might suddenly imagine dying in my sleep that night without telling him I cared; or feel sad because I would love to attend a function with her except that we weren’t talking… At this point I feel a distinct change in the energy between myself and the person from a repelling force to one of attraction.

“You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who hurt you and feel the power to wish them well.”

– Lewis B Smedes

Who to Forgive?

“The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbour as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves… are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves… forgive others when we forgive ourselves.”

– Eric Hoffer

As an angst-filled teenager I planned to write an entire book about all those who had wronged me. As a young adult I narrowed it down to just a list of awful people. I now realise that there’s only one person on that list – me.

You see, I didn’t need to forgive that person who publicly called me a bossy person; I needed to forgive myself for not being the sweet demure person I’d like to be but am not. Similarly, I didn’t need to forgive that ex-boyfriend who cheated on me; I needed to forgive myself for poor judgment and not seeing the signs. It was never about them; it was always about me. And once I accepted and forgave myself, there was nothing left to do. I had forgiven them in the same act of forgiving myself.

“With a little time, and a little more insight, we begin to see both ourselves and our enemies in humbler profiles. We are not really as innocent as we felt when we were first hurt. And we usually do not have a gigantic monster to forgive; we have a weak, needy, and somewhat stupid human being. When you see your enemy and yourself in the weakness and silliness of the humanity you share, you will make the miracle of forgiving a little easier.”

– Lewis B Smedes

More gifts of forgiveness

This post was part of a project with other bloggers. Here are the links to the other blogs:

Albert Foong at – Our Innate Innocence – Reflections on Forgiveness

Takuin at Life Beyond The Image – The Wound of Forgiveness

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25 replies on “The Gift of Forgiveness”

Well I have question if you can answer??
I am very much insecure in relationship with my close ones . I easily lose faith in them and start doubting on them.
I never say them but it affects me in my mind i remain very impatient and always think of all the shits,even though i am wrong many a times.
Even i didn’t able to sleep in night and my keep thinking about all these whatever i do.
That really sets me off,i remain reckless , depressed i have done many thing to stop all this but nothing is working
please suggest some good reply

Hello Neeraj,

Sorry to hear you’re going through a difficult time.

I’m not a counsellor and won’t try to give you advice. All I will say is that how we view and treat others is usually a reflection of how we view and treat ourselves. I find that if I love myself enough to forgive my own failings and be confident that I’m a good person all things considered, I will treat others the same way.

Be kind to yourself Neeraj, and I pray that all will fall into place for you.


Thank you everyone for your comments. Sorry I haven’t replied until now, and I’m just going to post this one comment instead of replying to comments individually as I usually do.

I really appreciate all you have posted here, and wish all of you a joyful 2010!

Hello there!
This is a great post. One of the lessons I came on this planet with is to learn the art of forgiveness. It is definelty a process for me and I’ve continued to be in situations where my lesson is tested. I am in the process of still learning this. Good advice.

Indeed, forgiveness is an act of kindness to one’s self, an act of healing. On the other hand, it is an act of giving something towards a person who doesn’t deserve it, such that we give ourselves the peace and healing we truly deserve! Happy New Year Daphne! πŸ˜‰

Hi Daphne,

Sometimes it is so difficult to forgive if someone make the same mistake over and over.
By the way, great article, Daphne. I like this post. πŸ™‚

This is a wonderful post Daphne. Like you, in recent years I’ve found it easier (though never easy) to forgive others. I once saw very clearly that somebody who had so done me wrong (in my head) did so out of their own fear, and it had nothing to do with me. I just got caught in the cross-fire. This moment of clarity caused me to instantly drop my resentment and feel compassion instead of anger. And the depression I had been dragging around healed.

Nobody ever really hurts us deliberately. Any pain they inflict on others is a reflection of the pain they carry inside. Plus, as some famous person whom I can’t recall once wisely said, no-one can hurt us without our permission. So, as you pointed out, the person we ultimately need to forgive is ourselves.

I loved how you changed doing to being a forgiving person instead. The true change starts from being. Great post, thank you!

Daphne, thank you for the Christmas wishes! That is very kind of you! I also wish you a wonderful and happy holiday!

I really enjoyed reading this article, and I resonate completely with all of your points. Here is my favorite quote:

β€œTo forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”

Some people can’t believe how true this quote is! How could someone think that their resentment towards another person, will make that person feel bad? The only one you are really hurting is yourself, by choosing to hold a grudge. Wow, if only we could somehow spread the word to people who aren’t interested in personal development.

We need some kind of personal development channel, on Television! Maybe that would make the world a much better place? Wish I had the money to do something like that, haha.

Thanks Daphne!
Josh Lipovetsky.

I liked reading this article, because forgiveness is something we all need. I believe that we can always learn something new and learning to forgive people is hard, but it will pay off when you finally get it.

I personally like great quotes very much, and that’s probably the main reason why I enjoy the quotes in your post. They are full of wisdom.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, and I hope I get to read more of this great articles.

It’s very clear this was written from the heart and with deep meaning. I think I’ll go storm heaven today.

I love every word of this and it’s so easy to see how forgiving yourself is taking accountability for anything that has happened. It so frees us to go on!

Thanks for sharing your insights and did I mention the quotes are over the top?

Happy Holidays and May you have a Joyful New Year! Keep writing…we need you;)

This is a really great article on forgiveness. As an incest survivor and Adult Child of an Alcoholic, I have done much work on myself with forgiveness as the goal. I have written a number of articles at my blog on forgiveness and what the process has been like for me.

No, forgiveness isn’t easy. Maybe it shouldn’t be. Some of the most important lessons that I have learned about myself have come through the process of forgiveness. True forgiveness doesn’t happen until you have faced and learned to let go of your anger and hurt. It isn’t a one-time occurrence when the hurt is big.

I agree that Albert, Urban Monk is full of wisdom.

Hi Daphne – your 2nd sentence is powerful – “if we could storm heaven to find and give forgiveness instead .. how different our lives and world would be” – a sentence we should all hold constantly in our hearts.

Don’t judge perhaps should be included within the forgiveness cycle – as we judge .. things will not be right and then that friction will arise .. live for the now and be at peace with what is going on – go with the flow.

The post is so well set out – and ‘becoming a forgiving person’ rather than just the act of doing so – is, as you say, so much more powerful, as we become a forgiving person more easily.

This is a post worth coming back to and re-reading, as will Urban Monk’s and the other contributors’ posts be worth studying too – I’ll be back.

Thanks – my mother was given a postcard inscription, a Palm Cross, three actual nails and the words 4given for Easter in 2008, by the visiting priest to her bed … that rang true for us – the Palm Cross, I stuck on black card, and is hung so she can see it from her bed.

It’s a strong message – as is your post –

With love from a thoughtful Hilary
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

I’ve spent a lot of time dancing with forgiveness.

One thing I’ve learned is that forgiveness as a choice is impossible. To simply decide to “forgive” does not heal the wound in our heart.

But we can decide to understand, to treat this person with compassion, to recognize them as a fellow and fallible human being. Forgiveness can only come once you can see past what the person has done to you to who that person really is.

It isn’t easy, and the process can take a lifetime but ultimately it is worth it.

This is so good to read. Forgiveness, even though it has become easier for me over the years, can still have painful moments with it. And I too find there is a right time to forgive…and it’s like you “just know”. And when I do forgive, I also feel an extra level of peace in my life, and that is a feeling that is so good.

This is a fantastic read, Daphne! I loved all the points but BEING a forgiving person really stood out for me.

I can’t be sure, but I think deep down inside many people can’t forgive, because of all the resistances, fears, and guilt. As we grow, these blocks lessen and forgiveness/compassion suddenly become a possibility.

Again, this really struck me, so thanks for these great thoughts.

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