Summary: The following is an excerpt from Isa Gucciardi’s , Coming to Peace.
True forgiveness is serious business. To forgive or be forgiven is a complex and stirring process that requires each party to dive deeply inward in order to restore peace. To reach a place of true forgiveness, we must set our sights on the heart of the conflict and begin the necessary work of self-examination required to find and release our attachment to the offense. Only then can we truly be free from our pain.
When it comes to forgiveness, there is a tendency—by both the offender and the offended—to rush toward the finish-line. But forgiving oneself or another is more akin to a journey than a race. While it is understandable that both parties would want to smooth over emotional wounds in order to quickly reestablish the relationship, rushing to do so is a mistake. Unless all parties engage in the hard work behind true forgiveness, the relationship will forever be affected by the offense. The relationship then bears the risk of becoming superficial, marked by compromise at best and hypocrisy at worst. Rushing forgiveness creates a mask of neutrality behind which volatile and sometimes destructive emotions loom.
True forgiveness is not for the faint of heart. And depending on which side of the offense we are on, the work necessary to receive forgiveness or grant it is markedly different. As you will see, “the offended” and “the offender,” while both responsible for their part of the forgiveness process, have distinctly different roads ahead.
If we have been offended and are in the position of granting forgiveness, the process is primarily one of release so that we may distance ourselves from the offense. But before we can release ourselves from the grip of the offense, we must examine all of the places inside us that remain attached to having been wounded.
The reasons for remaining attached to an offense vary widely from person to person. Some of us may not know we are attached to the offense and the resulting emotional wound. Or, it may not be clear how the offense has affected us and, therefore, we are unable to let go of it. And still yet, some of us are so angry that we decide to actively cultivate a grudge to punish the offending party in a passive aggressive way—sadly, this only binds us more permanently to the wound/offense.
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