Our Freedom Begins When We Forgive

(Read in less than :04)“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”~ Lewis B. Smedes

I had a spirited discussion on the life-changing process of forgiveness with a friend recently. Let’s admit it, forgiveness is a tough subject and an even tougher thing to offer. I set out to discover the origin of the term itself. (This should come as no surprise.) Socrates taught “the beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” But from there, we can dig down to the deeper meaning. Stick around. When we know how a word is born, we often can learn a lot about what it describes.

The Latin word perdonare is the root word of forgive. It means to give completely, without reservation and it gave us our English word pardon. Over time, the term perdonare was translated piece-by-piece. Linguists call the result a calque. That’s a fancy word for a stab at making a new word by just changing the alphabet. Per was replaced with for and donare became giefan when it morphed into the Germanic ancestor of English. Forgiefan, to give up and allow. In today’s English, the word has taken on new shades of meaning. Like renounce anger and abandon a claim on something as in to forgive a debt. It’s truly a process of letting go.

Forgive. It doesn’t come naturally.

“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us.” ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s our choice to forgive and forget because we can choose to remember and resent instead. However, it’s important to realize that unforgiveness is a mighty heavy burden. It’s been said that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. Here’s a more odorous illustration. It’s like dragging a bag of manure around with you everywhere and dreaming of smearing some on the face of the person who did you wrong. Now that really does stink.

Forgiveness expert Robert Enright has spent 30 years studying the crippling effects of holding on to grievous hurts. It wrecks havoc on human health and well-being. He calls forgiveness “powerful medicine.” I like his definition of forgiveness: “a willingness to abandon one’s right to resentment, negative judgment, and indifferent behavior toward one who unjustly hurt us, while fostering the undeserved qualities of compassion, generosity, and even love toward him or her.”

There’s help out there if forgiveness is hard for you

So much has been written about the healing effects of forgiveness I can’t scratch the surface here. I will tell you that letting go of a past hurt can be the ultimate “get out of jail free” card. I have seen so much pain and misery in people who cannot release and forgive hurts that took place 10, 20 or even 50 years ago. It is needless suffering.

Everybody Needs to Forgive Somebody by Allen Hunt is a life-changing book and you can get one free (just pay $5.95 shipping). Find it https://cart.dynamiccatholic.com/Free-Everybody-Needs-to-Forgive-Somebody-p/1entf-sc.htm. Robert Enright (the guy I mentioned earlier) has great stuff online at http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/eight_keys_to_forgiveness. One more source for information on the negative effects of grudge-holding can be found at Authentic Happiness . It is the website for UPenn which has been a pioneer in researching this subject and others and their impact on quality of life.

You deserve it

No one should struggle through life holding on to past hurts. If you have something you need to get past, if it is holding you back. please take a step toward getting started today! Sometimes the person who is hardest to forgive but needs it most is us.

Thanks for making it clear to the end of a longish post today. If you didn’t, I’ll never forgive you. Gotcha! Just kidding! See you Monday!

“Forgiveness [is] pure happiness.”~Martin Luther





  • Gail

    Great one! I often notice people re-living surgeries, re-living the wrongs received — and I wonder if our soul needs a repeat. Easier to see in others than in oneself — we need lots of mirrors for that.

    • Betty Streff

      I have seen it cripple and limit wonderful people and while it isn’t easy, releasing the “guilty” person is like lifting a boulder off their back.

    • Betty Streff

      Thanks friend! The same thing happens to me when I see your smiling face!

  • Gail

    “I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.”
    ― C.S. Lewis

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