Forgiveness Is a Process, Not an Event

A forgiving person has no past. An unforgiving person has no future.

What is forgiveness?

 Forgiveness is not to…

·         Condone

·         Forget

·         Tolerate

·         Ignore

·         Approve

·         Excuse

·         Minimize

·         Pardon

·         Deny

·         Absolve

·         Reconcile

·         Invite to hurt again

·         Surrender justice

 Forgiveness is a decision to not

·         Retaliate

·         Exact revenge

·         Seek compensation

·         Judge

 Forgiveness is a decision to…

·         Release them

·         Release ourselves

·         Be released


What is the process?

Accept the facts: Betrayal = it did happen; I was hurt.

Open your mind, memories, and heart to remember the hurts, the wounds; where and when you have been let down, dishonored, abused, lied to, cheated on; diminished in spirit and emotion; diminished physically and financially.

Bring to your mind, to your memory, and to your heart a picture of the betrayer: your father, mother, husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, sister, relative, friend. Have you been betrayed by your school, church, the judicial system, healthcare system, legal system, the government?

This is the reality — it did happen — we have been betrayed, hurt, and deeply wounded. Name it and accept it. It’s tragic and it’s true.

Accept the facts of the process of forgiveness: I can be healed from these soul wounds. The process begins when I decide to release them and myself; to release my current feelings about the events of my past.


To forgive is not to condone or to excuse the behavior. What was done was wrong.

To forgive is not to pardon — that’s not mine to give. I don’t have the power to absolve.

To forgive is not to forget. I am saddened by the memory, must grieve the event, and resolve to never let it happen again.

To forgive is to release from debt; to release from the demand for retribution or retaliation.

To forgive is to surrender the right to get even; to release my current feelings about my past “rights”.

The reality is that as long as I hold onto these hurts, they possess me; actually, they poison me physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

To forgive them is to take responsibility for my part, which may only be that I have been holding onto these memories, these feelings, and have allowed them to continue to devastate my physical, emotional and spiritual life. Am I willing to release my feelings about the event?

To forgive myself is to experience my regret, remorse, sorrow for who I’ve been, how I’ve acted, and how I hurt others — and to commit to change my behavior. Am I willing to release my feelings and assume a new attitude?

How long am I going to carry these wounds? How long am I going to be shackled to this garbage barge of memories of hurt, anger, and shame?

All spiritual traditions believe that I am forgiven just to the extent that I forgive; all spiritual traditions believe that I am released just to the extent I release others.

Look at my own brokenness — the many betrayals for which I have been responsible. Look at my motives, my role, in the events in which I find myself betrayed. Where was I selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, angry, or afraid?

In light of my own brokenness, look at their brokenness — see them like me — those who hurt me are themselves hurt, fearful, wounded, sick people — human beings twisted by their own personal histories.

Embrace compassion both for them and for myself. They have suffered; they act out of their suffering. I have suffered; I act out of my suffering.

I am a weak, wounded human being, full of defects — attempting to survive the difficulties of life and find a little security, peace, and happiness.

Forgiveness is the release of others and my feelings about the harm they have caused me. The truth is, forgiveness often follows deep acceptance and repentance of my own harmful actions to others.

I am powerless to name and accept the truth of the harm I have done; I am likewise powerless to release the memories of the hurt others have done to me.

Despite this powerlessness, I have a responsibility to decide not to live in the past. I have a responsibility to decide to live in the present, to accept reality as it is – not as it “should be” or as I want it.

Am I willing to embrace the process and release them?

Am I willing to pray for the power…

·         to ask for knowledge of the truth?

·         to ask for freedom from the bondage of my own history?

·         to wish for the spiritual healing of those persons, institutions, or events that have harmed me?

·         to forgive myself — to let go of self-condemnation, morbid reflection, remorse, my temper, my addictions, my vanities, my arrogance, my smugness, my victim stance; to let go of my failures, to do what I must and become who I really am?

·         to change my attitude and my actions?

Am I willing to pray for the power…

·         to love them as I want to be loved?

·         to see the world and the people in it from God’s point of view? To see and accept reality? To identify and release my “unenforceable rules”?

·         to act better than I feel?

                       Invite the healing Spirit of the Universe…

·         into my mind — that my memories may be healed.

·         into my heart — that my feelings may be healed.

·         into my soul — that my human spirit may be healed and flourish.

                       Healing Spirit of the Universe:

·         Enable me to be willing to let go and to forgive; to release and to be released.

·         Enable me to be willing to be restored to sanity, to healthy thinking.

·         Enable me to be willing to be taken to a place of serenity — to accept reality as it is.

·         Enable me to be willing to find freedom — to act with the intention of compassion and loving-kindness.


                      Holy Spirit, breathe Your Spirit into me.

·         Enable me to live from a vision of being tender love and a witness to the benefits of hope.

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