Forgiveness is a choice and a process

Some definitions:

A willingness to abandon one's right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly injured us, while fostering the qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love toward him or her.

A willed change of heart, the successful result of an active endeavor to replace bad thoughts with good, bitterness and anger with compassion and affection.

A means to begin seeing the other in a new way, whereby the wrongdoer can be regarded as someone over and above the wrong he has committed.

A means of "separating" the wrongdoer from the wrong.

A motivation to give up avoiding a person or seeking revenge on a person who has hurt you, and having a hope for well-being for that person.

Forgiveness is NOT:

*Simply tolerating or accepting injustice.


*A neutral stance toward the wrongdoer.

*Condoning or excusing wrongdoing.

*Legal pardon. Forgiveness is a personal response; legal justice can still be pursued.

*Reconciliation. Forgiveness is the response of one person; reconciliation involves two coming together, including the injurer recognizing the wrong and taking steps to rectify it. Forgiveness does not require reconciliation.

Sources: 'Exploring Forgiveness,' Robert D. Enright and Joanna North, editors, U. of Wisconsin Press; an interview with psychologist Everett Worthington Jr.

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