WoW 057: On forgiveness [Words of Wisdom]

What forgiveness does not mean.

Forgiveness does not mean you agree with what was done.

Forgiveness does not mean you minimize, justify, or deny what was done.

Forgiveness does not mean you pretend you aren't hurt because "that is for weak people," or it wouldn't be mature to acknowledge your pain.

Forgiveness does not depend on the other person. Forgiveness does not depend on the other person meeting a certain standard of changed behavior, understanding how they hurt you, or even changing their behavior.

Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that you pardon the person from the offense's impact.

Forgiveness does not mean you trust.

Forgiveness does not mean you must reconcile.

Reconciliation is restoring relationships, mutuality, and trust. Forgiveness can open the door to reconciliation, but reconciliation requires both people to be willing to attempt to repair the damage.

What forgiveness means.

Forgiveness means giving grace to the other person.

Forgiveness means treating the other person with kindness and respect, not with bitterness, or vengeance.

Forgiveness means not holding things against the other and not feeding your resentment. If resentment surfaces, choose to lay it down. As many times as needed.

Forgiveness is rooted in reality, looking at what has happened without denial. This is often difficult and painful.

To forgive, you may need to first grieve. If your anger is blinding you from the ability to forgive, compassionately look to what is underneath your anger and what pain and loss you might need to grieve.

Forgiveness is first a choice, a willingness. Feelings of peace and contentment often quickly follow true forgiveness.

Forgiveness is a process- it's ongoing.

Forgiveness is rooted in humility and the recognition that you deserve far worse than you have received for your selfishness and dark choices.

Forgiveness can only be given well when it has first been received well.

Forgiveness starts with you and God.

Forgiveness gives you freedom.


"Then Peter came up and said to him, "Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, 'Pay what you owe.' So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?' And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart."

Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 18:21-35


Who do you need to forgive?

What story would you need to let go of in order to forgive?


If you see a person without deep peace and contentment, you see a person living in the prison of their unwillingness to forgive. If that is you, freedom comes, as Jesus so brilliantly told, when you live all of life in light of the mercy and forgiveness you have been given.

Live wisely,


Continue reading

A woman thoughtfully holds a glowing orb.
Our newsletter

Do you hear the call of wisdom?

How you respond to the call of wisdom determines the direction of your life.

Get the Words of Wisdom email every Wednesday: brief reflections on wisdom to help you grow in the skills of virtuous living.