Have you ever wrong someone and you know that you are at fault, but find it difficult to seek forgiveness?
Have you ever been wronged by someone and that person apologizes, but you find it difficult to forgive?
I think it is safe to assume that we have experienced both of the situations above, or at least one of them. Both situations are difficult, but we already know what is the right thing to do in each situation. We know that if we wronged someone, we should seek forgiveness and we know that if we have been wronged, we should forgive.
One would think that if one knows what is the right thing to do, it would be easier to do it. But in this case, knowing what is the right thing to do is not enough, because it is still difficult to do. Why?
Seeking forgiveness is difficult. Saying “I’m sorry” means that you are acknowledging that you are wrong and that you are lowering yourself below the person whom you have wronged. Nobody likes to do either of those two things because it doesn’t feel good.
On the other hand, forgiving is also difficult. Saying “I forgive you” means that you are letting the person go. Before, that person is locked up inside the prison of revenge; the person is the prisoner and you are the warden of that prison. You feel like revenge gives you power.
Seeking forgiveness doesn’t feel good. Forgiving doesn’t feel good either. But that’s the nature of medicine; it doesn’t taste good, but you know it’s good for you. If seeking forgiveness and forgiving is the medicine, then what is the illness?
The illness here is an inflated ego.
People who don’t want to ask for forgiveness feel that it is humiliating to lower themselves, even if they know they are wrong. The ego doesn’t want to feel humiliation so in order to maintain a sense of pride, the ego either denies that it’s wrong or retaliates with some sort of weird justification.
People who don’t want to forgive feel that it is a sign of weakness to let go of the person who have done them wrong. The ego feels empowered by revenge, and it wants to maintain that power. Revenge becomes the source of energy for the person.
However, revenge is a negative energy. Although it can motivate people to keep on going, it can also devour them. Revenge is like a baggage that they carry around all the time because they refuse to let it go. That baggage gets heavier and heavier as time goes by.
Every time people remind themselves about the painful past, the wound gets deeper and deeper. So holding on to revenge will be detrimental for them. The medicine is to let it go, no matter how hard it may be.
People might find it difficult to forgive and to let go, especially when the person who wronged them doesn’t deserve forgiveness – at least from their perception. That might be true. There are wrongdoings that are so terrible, it would be unthinkable to forgive such a person who commit them.
However, this is a matter of perspective. We forgive not because the person deserves it or not. We forgive because we know that forgiving others is what God wants from us. It is what would be more pleasing to Him. We shift our focus from our ego, to God.
On top of that, we forgive others because we too want forgiveness, don’t we? We should want for others what we want for ourselves. If we want to be easily forgiven, then we should easily forgive. This doesn’t in any way justify the wrongdoing; punishment is due.
To forgive and to let go doesn’t mean that we just forget what happened. It is undeniable that there are wrongdoings that are almost impossible to forget. To forgive and to let go mean that we allow ourselves the room for healing.
Whether it be to ask for forgiveness or to forgive, both are not easy to do. To ask for forgiveness requires a big heart and to forgive requires a bigger heart. Thankfully, God designed the human heart to be big enough for both.