Forgiveness: What it is and What it isn’t

Forgiveness: What it is and What it isn’t


Forgiveness is letting go of the hope for a better or different yesterday.

According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, it is “to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).”

When one chooses to forgive, others may see it is condoning; however, the definition of condoning, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to treat as if trivial, harmless, or of no importance.”

If we are to believe these two words are alike, it would be impossible to forgive because who would or want to trivialize a horrible event?

What I’ve Learned About Forgiveness

I have learned, through years of grief, that forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person and everything to do with my well-being.

Forgiveness is an action, not a feeling. One cannot feel forgiveness unless you have forgiven. It is the act of letting go of resentment held against another.

Some may then say: I can forgive but I cannot forget. To that, it’s wise to ask then, has the transgression truly been forgiven? Who is the one who continues to remember and whose life is blocked by a lack of forgiveness?

Over the past few years, I’ve had to work hard at forgiveness. Not only that, I’ve experienced a lack of understanding when I’ve been able to forgive, and others in my life have not.

No one else needs to understand your willingness and openness to forgive. You and you alone know your heart and what it needs. We all walk the road of forgiveness in our own time. Let no one tell you that you’re wrong for offering forgiveness (in the silence of your heart).

What Not To Do with Forgiveness

To that point, never ever feel as though you must verbalize your forgiveness in person. You potentially open yourself up for more hurt and pain if you offer unsolicited forgiveness as the other person may see this as an attack. Remember: forgiveness has nothing to do with the other person.

On the other side of forgiveness is requesting it. When you ask for forgiveness, you are asking the other person to do something that you need to do for yourself. Because, when you’re the one asking for forgiveness, it’s really guilt rearing its head as you’re really trying to apologize for something you have said or done. Rather, it is an apology that is needed.

What are you holding in your heart that you’ve been unwilling to forgive?

Next week, I will share two methods I’ve learned in navigating forgiveness. In the meantime, give some thought to both positive and negative events of a relationship to someone you’ve found it difficult to forgive. This person can be living, deceased, or perhaps, any relationship you wish would be or could have been different, better, or more in some way. Map these events in chronological order as best you can, and then next week Friday, come back here to the blog for part two.

P.S. How about you? Struggling to find forgiveness in your heart? I know it’s hard – truly, I do. But know that by offering forgiveness, you’re not letting the “offender” off-the-hook. Rather, you’re breaking yourself free from the hook.

Bury and Replace

Bury and Replace

Bury and Replace: this is what we do when we grieve. We bury our feelings to protect those of others, to avoid our own, and make attempts to replace the loss (usually) not in the best of ways.

Why You Bury Your Grief

While grieving, you’ve probably been told not to feel so bad; things could be worse and look at the bright side, etc.. Although others may have good intentions, this is only more damaging to an already broken heart. So, rather than feeling as though you can openly share your grief, you instead bury it. You pretend – for the sake of others. And on top of it, you then apologize for your sorrow and for getting emotional – often at the most inconvenient times like in the dairy section of the grocery store.

As time goes on, after burying it and stuffing it down, you decide it’s becoming too much, and you look to replace it. Or, maybe you’re quick to choose to replace what you’ve lost in the hopes that the sadness you can’t openly share, can be replaced with joy (that which society approves is shared). However, since you’ve been working hard to bury your grief, what you begin to experience is a temporary joy.

From personal experience, I can tell you that, in our human conditioned way, we avoid pain at all costs. And, there is no other situation where that is more prevalent than when it comes to unresolved grief. We replace grief with people and vices because it’s the joy-for-a-moment we’re chasing in the moment. When, in actuality, it’s short-term joy we get in exchange.

We sell out our future happiness because we fail to see that the baggage we picked up in grief, will follow us into every future relationship and experience that comes into our lives.

A Couple Suggestions

You can’t expect that every person in your life will be able to sit with you in your grief. Do yourself a favor and don’t hold on to that false hope. Instead, look to one or two people who you know will be a listening ear, without the need to do anything about it. If you don’t have that person in your life, I encourage you to seek support elsewhere – perhaps others who’ve shared a similar experience.

Before you look to bury and replace your grief, ask yourself the following: Have I fully resolved my grief? Am I replacing to avoidwhy

P.S. Did you like this post or know someone who could benefit from reading? I invite you to share it. Likewise, I share little nudges like this in my weekly newsletter, The Unleashed Letters, that you won’t read anywhere else. Or, if you’re wanting to move forward in life, regardless if you’ve experienced grief, I offer a FREE exercise you can do to figure out your Core Needs & Essential Values. Knowing these eight words will be the litmus test for every decision you need to make moving forward.