FORGIVENESS is commonly defined as “to cease to feel resentment towards someone for an offence, flaw or mistake” or “to let go of past grudges or lingering anger against a person or persons who did something wrong”.
APA (2006:5) describes it as an intentional and voluntary process that involves a change in emotion and attitude regarding an offender. It is said to be driven by a deliberate decision to forgive that decreases “motivation to retaliate or maintain estrangement from an offender despite their actions, and requires letting go of negative emotions toward the offender”.
From this definition, it appears that self-denial is an indispensable requirement in forgiveness which makes it challenging to most people. Challenging as it is restoring back wholesome relationship with an offender to one’s own hurt.
Understanding deeper the nature of forgiveness as a value, it is divine and beyond human capacity because most victim naturally retaliate or harbor bitterness against the offender and a scar in the heart can only be removed by divine intervention. This happens when one pours out all hurts to God and emotional healing follows. Unless and until a person leaves everything in the hand of the Almighty, struggle continues against the pains of the past that keep haunting day and night. Worse is when health condition is attacked by sleepless nights, sickness, or diseases as opined by medical experts.
What makes forgiveness even more divine is the fact that only by the unconditional love of God that forgiveness is made possible. That God kind of love was evident when He loved us while we are still sinners and that His love for mankind prevailed over judgment. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” is also a notable pronouncement that beacons forgiveness beyond human plane. We can also interpret from the Scriptures that forgiveness is boundless or endless, which should be “seventy times seven”, and only through divine enablement that such standard is met.
Forgiveness was exemplified by Joseph the dreamer, where his brothers hated him and even planned to kill him. His brothers eventually sold him instead to merchants that led him to become slave and prisoner of Egypt for wrong accusations. When his status improved in Egypt and the opportunity came for him to retaliate against his brothers, forgiveness overshadowed his negative emotions and saw all things in a different light. He learned that his painful past brought about by the negative circumstances that happened to him, as perpetrated by his brothers, has prepared him for a bigger task and for a higher purpose – to save his family and the entire next generation from the onslaught of famine.
Forgiveness, therefore, is easier to apply when we strive to focus on the purposes of God beyond the painful experiences committed by our fellowmen. It must be a constant practice since life on earth carries no guarantee of total freedom from hurts and pains which can be committed by anyone, even people who are closest to us. It promotes harmonious working relationship in a workplace and a peaceful living in a family and society.