So, somebody did something horrible to you years ago. But, you decided to be a good person and forgive the one who wronged you. Yet, you still have these bad feelings against that other person. If you truly forgave that person, why do you still have lingering feelings of hatred?
But let's say that you're the vindictive type who actually wants to keep a grudge. You probably unintentionally forgave a person when you intended to hold a grudge. But the nice, sweet person who wanted to forgive is probably holding a grudge without knowing it.
The word "forgive" indicates a lender-debtor relationship. When you take out a loan, you are a debtor. As the debtor, you owe somebody else something. As long as the lender is holding a debt over your head, then you will be obligated to keep paying that lender until the debt has been settled. However, if the lender decided not to hold you responsible for that debt anymore even if you didn't finish paying it off, then you would be forgiven -- or in other words, the lender will not seek legal action against you for not paying off your debt.
When you are "forgiven," then the person you owed will no longer hold you responsible for the loan, even though you didn't pay it back. But here's another thing about forgiveness: the lender suffered the greater loss than you did. When you are forgiven, you get off easy. The lender, however, is the one who suffered the loss, but he will still not seek further action against you.
There is a parable in the story that Jesus told about a servant who owed a king roughly thousands (if not millions) of dollars. The king told the servant that he will put him in jail until he paid every last cent. The servant pleaded with the king, asking him to give him more time to pay off the debt. The king, however, was soft-hearted and decided to forgive the debt. No longer would the servant be obligated to pay the king that money.
It would be nice if the government could do that with my student loans!
In that parable, who got off easy? Obviously the servant, because the king is out of lots of cash! The servant didn't lose out on anything. In the same way, when YOU forgive somebody, then you must have suffered some kind of loss, whether it's self-esteem, money, trust, reputation, etc. If you lost nothing, then there is nothing to forgive.
Now in that same parable, the servant that the king forgave also had a debt owed him. Another servant owed him the equivalent of a few dollars, but instead of following the example of the king, this servant threaten the other servant to put him in jail until he could pay him back. The other servant begged for more time to repay him, but instead of showing forgiveness, the king's servant threw the man in jail! When the king heard this, he confronted this servant and threw him in jail until he could pay back every last cent of the debt.
See, forgiveness has nothing to do with emotions. Forgiveness is not about liking or disliking a person. Forgiveness is simply a choice to not seek justice against the person who wronged you. This means that you're not going to seek revenge. This means that while you have suffered a loss, you won't seek any compensation for damages.
Years ago, my old landlord kept my deposit of $850 because she had to repaint the walls. Repainting the walls is something you have to do anyway if you want to rent the house out to somebody else. The paint that she used was the cheap kind that stains easily. You can't simply wash the walls because then the paint would wash off and water could get inside the drywall, causing mold. She never repainted the house during the five years that we've been there, and now she wanted to keep our deposit just so she could repaint the walls.
I really wanted to seek justice and bring her to court. My wife, on the other hand, just wanted us to be done with the house and move on. But that's $850 that she unjustly kept from us! I could understand if we purposely destroyed the walls, but the cheap paint you used made the walls dingy and I can't wash off any food stains that get on the walls because of kids. Why am I being punished for your failure to use better paint??
But you know, sometimes it's just better to be wronged than to seek justice. If seeking justice would further cause stress to my wife, then the justice isn't worth it. Sometimes, forgiveness (that is, not seeking further action) is more practical than holding a grudge. Somebody has to be the bigger person. Somebody has to be the peacemaker. Somebody has to be willing to move on to better things than to be stuck in a worthless place.
Sometimes, you need to be willing to accept the loss and move on. You don't have to like it. You may struggle with ill feelings against the other person, but just simply move on without seeking payback. That is true forgiveness: being willing to suffer the loss while allowing the other person to get off easy.
That is life. You will have many who did some kind of injustice to you. If you spend lots of time trying to get payback, then you'd spend a significant part of your life doing nothing but getting revenge. But if you could discipline yourself to accept the loss and to move on to better things, then you won't be held captive by the need to get even.
It takes a big person to forgive, but sometimes forgiveness is more about practicality than about morale. Forgive a person not because you think you're better than him, but because you could be doing other things to better yourself. Why waste time seeking revenge? Would revenge restore what the other person took from me? Most likely not. Revenge makes you feel good, but that is all it does. You could eat a bowl of ice cream and feel good. Why feel good about seeking action against another person when you could spend that time doing something else?
Just imagine if I went to court with my old landlord. I would have to take time out to go to court and sit there for who knows how long to get my case heard. And if she somehow won, then I would need to appeal that decision and take out more time (and money) to do that. That's just too much time spent trying to get my money back. I could be doing more valuable things with my time. So, let me just accept the loss and move on. No, I probably won't do business with her again, but if I saw her again, I won't treat her like an enemy. What's done is done and it's over.
Those who could experience peace are the ones who could let go and move on. Those who always seek justice are never at peace, because their peace depends on being right. Those who always want revenge fail to understand that life won't always go their way. They don't understand that we would always go through some kind of a loss as long as we live. If you can't move on, then don't expect much improvement in your life. If you could be able to forgive, then you're telling yourself, "I'm better than this! There are greater things ahead of me. I won't let this other person hold that much power over my happiness."
Seeking justice is a choice. Nobody has to go to court. In the same way, forgiveness is a choice. It's a choice that causes significant loss, but it's also a choice that would allow you to focus on higher things in life. And just remember that somebody in your life has forgiven you of a wrong you've done. Now, pay it forward to do the same to somebody else. Your forgiveness just might help somebody else become a better person.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.