I read an interesting statement last evening about forgiveness that I thought you might find interesting and possibly applicable to your life: “Forgiveness never implies restoration of privilege to the offender.” This statement caught my eye and interest because I’ve often wondered why there is such a strong tendency in people not to forgive.
Consider this: If you were under the opposite assumption, that is, that forgiveness always implies restoration of privilege to the offender, you would naturally be quite hesitant to forgive others. Giving forgiveness, according to this logic, would mean that you were de facto reopening the door to future harm. So why forgive? Why let go? It wouldn’t be safe!
The truth of the matter is that you can and must offer forgiveness if you are to be fully free of the burden of the offense. To get to the point of forgiveness, you must have healed sufficiently to let go of the anger and pain associated with the injustice, but forgiveness puts the final nail in the coffin of the offense. From that point on, the victim can rest in peace.
When you forgive, you don’t need to expose yourself to future harm. You can learn from the events of the past, whether you were a victim or the offender, so that you don’t relive them. Forgiveness cannot change the past, but it can sever the ties to the hurt associated with it. Once you stop feeding it with your own life force, you can finally move on.
I suppose you could say that forgiveness does restore privilege, but not to the offender. Forgiveness implies the restoration of privilege – the privilege of wholeness – to the victim. On this basis, forgiveness is not just altruistic in some vague, theoretical way, but it is also in one’s enlightened self-interest.