Holden Village Staff Experience August, 2003

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What we do when we forgive

We do three things.  As you read this, keep in mind that forgiveness happens within the self and the soul of the person doing the forgiving.


We rediscover the humanity of the person who hurt us.  We begin to see a real person, a botched self, no doubt, but a human being.  This discovery does not necessarily turn the person into a close friend or a trustworthy partner.  We do not diminish the wrongness of what was done to us, but we do begin to see him as human like us.


We surrender our right to get even.  We give up our right to see our enemy suffer, and to know that he knows that he is suffering only because of what he did to us.  But take care.  Giving up vengeance, does not mean giving up on justice.  The line between them is faint, unsteady, and fine.  Vengeance is our own pleasure at seeing someone who has hurt us get hurt in turn.  Justice is secured when someone pays a fair penalty for wronging another, even if the person who was wronged takes no pleasure from the payment.


We revise our feelings toward the persons we forgive, and wish them well.  Our hate begins to turn into a wish that good things might come their way.


These three stages are the fundamentals of the healing process.  No matter who or what we forgive, we must do these three things in order for the forgiveness to happen.

Links to other Forgiveness pages will appear here.