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By Terry Arzt

I would like to share a story about forgiveness.

I met Shelly for the first time a few years ago at a potluck dinner.

Shelly told me that her ex-husband was out with their daughter that night and that his second wife was with them. Shelly said that she needed to get out and do something to keep herself busy. She said that her ex left her for another woman and the less that she sees of the two of them together the better she feels.

Anyone could see that she was deeply wounded by her ex and was still struggling with the awful pain of being left for another.

I said that even when both parties agree that the marriage was bad and should end; it is still awkward and can be devastating when you see each other again.

She went on to tell me how he had done her wrong and how he had broken up their family. She detailed how he had caused her and their daughter so much pain.

She said that his actions were unforgivable.

I was taken back, not only by her honestly and her tears, but the deep emotions’ that she shared with me (a complete stranger) while telling her story.

I said that time really does heal. When something first happens, your emotions are raw. But after a while you really gain some perspective and you feel better

I asked how long it had been since he left her – she said 13 years.


Not good

I would like to share a quote about forgiveness.

“Forgiveness does not erase the past, nor does it grant absolution. It simply is you acknowledging that you no longer hold judgment over someone. Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.”

I found this definition on Wikipedia:

Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, and/or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution.

Wow – that’s it – it is the process of concluding a resentment that we have toward someone who has hurt us or who has offended us in some way.

Forgiveness is not condoning their actions. It is not mentally accepting that what they did was alright. It is not looking at their past and seeing what made them do what they did. It is not rationalizing the why the whole thing happened the way it did.

The person who hurt you does not even have to know that you forgave them. No words need to be exchanged, unless for some reason you need to say them for your own sake. Not unless you need to say them to gain your own closure.

No not that.

You forgive not for their sake, but for your own sake. You forgive to lighten your load. You forgive to remove the darkness. When you carry resentments around, your perspective is miserable. You feel heavier and you can’t see the amazing possibilities of your life because your thoughts are centered on a grievance that you have. You keep replaying it in your mind – what happened – how it happened – how hurt you are – how insensitive they were – you keep playing the same scenario over and over again.

And here is the truth – the person who offended you doesn’t care – and this thought process is killing you.

You are better off concluding that something happened that you resent and that the event is over with. It doesn’t mean that this person has to be part of your life – ever again. It doesn’t excuse what the person has done to you. It is just the release of the resentment, the release of the anger and the release of the judgment that we hold.

And you are releasing it for you.

Always – always take care of yourself.  Value your worth, your life and most importantly your possibilities for the future.

You can create a future for yourself when you are filed with hope and not resentment.

You can create a new life for yourself when you let go of the past.

So forgive – to lighten your load – to create something new for yourself – to feel better – and to move on.

You will be glad that you did.

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