What Does it Really Mean to Forgive Someone?
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What Does it Really Mean to Forgive Someone?

Forgiveness isn't "It's okay," rather it's "I will be okay."

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What Does it Really Mean to Forgive Someone?

What is forgiveness?Is forgiveness what I'm hoping my high school English teacher will grant me after she discovers I started a piece of writing with a question-- despite repeatedly teaching me that starting a piece of writing with a question is lazy. Telling me, "You are a better writer than this!" Is that what I'm hoping she gives me—forgiveness? I believe that in a perfect world-- where the sun never stops shining and sparkles fall from the sky and puppies never die, forgiveness is when you somehow become okay with something someone has said or done to you. But by definition, to forgive is "[to] stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake."


For most of my life, I've held on to the picture-perfect idea that forgiveness means you are okay with the pain someone has caused you. It wasn't until my senior year of high school when I felt destroyed beyond repair where I found myself searching for what it meant to forgive someone. I thought that's what you're supposed to do when someone wrongs you: Eventually, you forgive them and become magically okay with what they said or did. But the last thing I wanted to do was "forgive" someone who led me to have to dunk my face in ice water every night to stop my anxiety attacks. The last thing I wanted to do was "forgive" someone who led me to have to leave in the middle of class with tears staining my red cheeks. I had the wrong idea of what forgiveness is. Forgiveness does not mean you are okay with what someone has done to you. Forgiveness does not mean that what someone has said or done to you is somehow justifiable. The definition says forgiveness is when you stop feeling angry or resentful. It doesn't say the pain stops. It doesn't say a certain action is okay. It says you stop feeling angry or resentful. Therefore, forgiveness is a choice. A hard one nonetheless, but it's a choice for you to make.


When someone says or does something that hurts you or even destroys you, it means they weren't thinking of you. When they said the thing or did the act that caused you pain—they were never thinking about you and your heart-- your feelings. The great thing about forgiveness is that it comes to be about you, not them. When you forgive, you are showing yourself the care and love that was never thought of in the first place. You are letting go of the hatred and resentment that built up in your chest because you know you deserve more than that. You are worthy of better. By choosing forgiveness, you are choosing yourself—putting yourself first. Hatred and resentment take up too much space in the body and soul, and how silly would it be to let another person control you to such an extent? After they've already hurt you as they have?


You can choose forgiveness and still cry an ugly cry. You can choose forgiveness and still be disapproving of what was said or done. You can choose forgiveness and still hurt. You can choose forgiveness and still never speak to the person again. Forgiveness isn't approval - instead, it's the love that was never shown to you finally being shown to you, by you—for you. Forgiveness isn't "It's okay," rather it's "I will be okay."

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