Can you imagine!

Forgivenessthe action or process of forgiving or being forgivenSynonymmercy

In 2005 the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, an American Psychological Association publication, featured a study on Forgiveness Therapy. The study highlighted the benefits of the positive intention of forgiveness to not only ameliorate anxiety and depression, which Alternative Treatments can do, but also to increase self-esteem, healthy decision-making, and greater ability to find meaning.

The study described the powerful impact to both the Forgiven and Forgiver. The study went on to show that after the act of forgiving, the forgiver continued to increase positive attributes of forgiveness, self-esteem and finding meaning.

I have lived the experience of the forgiver and forgiven.

Attending a family wedding, I saw someone I hadn’t scene for nearly 20 years. He looked familiar but not; time had changed his appearance. He and his wife recognized me and reintroduced themselves after the two-decade absence. Lovely to see you! Wonderful wedding! All the social graces.

At some point in the evening, he came over and invited me to dance. I accepted. We talked about our families, children and the passage of time. It was a fine moment. When the music stopped, the dancing stopped.

Then he looked me in the eyes and said: “I’m sorry.”

In that split second, I knew why he was sorry…something he had done 20 years earlier. Split that second again…I felt the uncomfortable impulse to say “that’s ok” to dismiss the memory. Split that second again…I looked him in the eyes and responded: “I forgive you.”

I had a visceral response; I felt the power of forgiveness. Had I merely said “that’s ok” I would have continued to diminish me by not valuing the meaning of the memory as well as the meaning of the apology. I would also have diminished him by not valuing the meaning of the need to be forgiven.

I could see his own visceral response; something emptied from him. He stood a little taller in front of me, relieved, forgiven. His countenance changed. He looked more like his former self – a little happier, a little freer.

In his apology he had given a gift of meaning and healing I didn’t know I needed; in forgiveness I had given him a gift of meaning and healing I didn’t now I needed to give.

Forgiveness, can you imagine!

Have you been forgiven? Do you have the chance to forgive?

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