The Heart of Forgiveness

The Heart of Forgiveness

All of us carry within us deep wounds of hurt from some of our life experiences. We may remember the times that weren’t so great, where somebody did or said something to us, or we found ourselves in a situation that was out of our control, that resulted in hurtful comments or behaviours.

Often we try to put these events behind us and get on with it, and often we are quite successful at doing that. We may even believe that we have let it all go because we never pay any attention to these experiences.

But it is impossible to let go of our experiences.

We may well have buried or forgotten some of the hurtful moments, but they still remain as part of us; they live in us and form the makeup of our life story, whether we remember them or not; they also provide a link to the way in which we interpret and respond to some other situations in which we feel threatened or hurt. Our negative or hurt experiences live in the body, and when triggered, cause us to respond in a negative way until such time as they are healed.

So how do we heal these difficult moments in our life, the times that we have been so hurt by others? It’s a hard call, but the only way is through forgiveness. Sometimes we feel that the hurt is too deep to forgive, but what is the consequence of non-forgiveness? Retaining the hurt! – and the ongoing damage to yourself (and others!) that occurs by holding onto experiences in a negative way.

“But if I forgive, that means I am condoning that action, and letting him/her off the hook and that is not fair!”

Forgiveness does not mean condoning bad behavior. Forgiveness is about accepting that the person who has hurt you is human and has behaved badly in that moment, just as I have behaved badly in some moments. Forgiveness also does not mean ignoring consequences that may be necessary for the bad behavior.

If we reflect upon ourselves as having behaved badly or hurtfully, we would probably wish to make amends somehow, perhaps by saying sorry, or showing our remorse in some other way, and we would also hope that we could be forgiven, despite the damage we may have caused. In turn then, we can offer that same forgiveness that we would hope for, to others who have hurt us. “But what if there is no remorse shown? That is surely a reason not to forgive!”

We cannot control or manage or expect particular feelings of others, including remorse, and if we are waiting until we believe that they have shown the right amount of remorse before we can consider forgiveness, we might be waiting a long time! Again, What is the consequence of our non-forgiveness of someone who hasn’t shown remorse, and, Who is primarily benefitting or suffering from it? The answer again, is that if we keep our non-forgiveness, we retain the hurt and its negative impact on our health and wellbeing.

So how do I forgive when I’ve held onto this for so long, and I always said I would never forgive them?

Forgiveness begins with intention: we make up our minds to forgive someone for what they have said or done (or not said or done!).

That, in itself, is not always sufficient to have us feel differently, but it is a great start! It seems that the feeling of forgiveness, the heart of forgiveness, follows on sometime later, and comes from a place beyond our thinking mind; so we need to keep open to that source, and the possibility of feeling forgiveness and love towards whomever may have hurt us, if we really want to be free of our damaging hurts.

A great tool to help achieve the state of forgiveness, and to eliminate past hurts, is Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is an energy-based therapy that works beyond the level of the mind, and as such, can achieve results that are not possible, or are harder to achieve with mind-based therapies.

Workshops on EFT are being held in Darwin in November and December. Please see Marg’s blog article on Emotional Freedom Workshops which describes EFT further and has links for workshop information and registration.

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  1. I would like to share with you some Scripture and study notes on forgiveness. Jesus teaches His disciples in the Lord’s prayer:
    “…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us, …” Matthew 6:12
    and following immediately after the Lord’s prayer
    …”If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14, 15

    “This is a startling warning about forgiveness. If we refuse to forgive others, then God will also refuse to forgive us. Why? Because when we don’t forgive others, we are denying our common ground as sinners in need of God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of sin is not the direct result of our forgiving others, but it is based on our realizing what forgiveness means. (see Ephesians 4:32 ‘Instead, be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.’
    It is easy to ask God for forgiveness but difficult to grant it to others. Whenever we ask God to forgive us for sin, we should ask, Have I foirgiven the people who have wronged me.” (Study notes for Matt. 6:14, 15 Life Application Study Bible, New Living Translation)

  2. this is beautiful

  3. Dear Margaret,
    I am so thrilled to receive this!
    I have started doing EFT on a dog that I am staying with and he loves it 🙂
    My friend who did a course and practised on animals found the same thing, that animals keep coming back for more – it’s just so lovely.
    And it’s a win:win!
    I love your work.
    Love Jo

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