Forgiveness is the art of letting go. Without it, the wounds incurred by a wrong never fully heal. Actions past continue to guide our current actions, unless we let them go.
Everyone has been wronged, and everyone has wronged another. This is a fundamental truth to the world we live in. The degrees vary, as do our perceptions of them. Because of this, forgiveness is sometimes an extremely difficult thing to do. As Alexander Pope put it, “to err is human; to forgive, divine.”
Forgiveness is a part of grieving, and like grieving it has steps. First, you must acknowledge that you have to forgive. Seeking revenge may bring justice, but it will not change the events of the past, nor will it heal the wounds incurred. A person must realize that refusing to forgive is like holding on to a piece of shattered glass; you are only hurting yourself.
Second, you need to accept your feelings of anger and betrayal. Yes, you are angry and hurt, and yes this is normal, even healthy. Shoving down and ignoring anger is not forgiveness. Only by embracing it can you let go of it.
Finally, you need to forgive the person who wronged you and in doing so, forgive yourself and God who let it happen. The event is past, and you can now move forward. Hopefully, you even learned something that will help you live a better life in the future.
When you recognize that you have wronged someone else, seeking forgiveness is important. Even so, it is meaningless unless you make a real effort to right the wrong. It may be impossible to take back your actions, but making the effort goes a long way. The person may still not forgive you. The relationship may be destroyed beyond repair. However, you can feel better about yourself knowing that you have done everything you could to pay penance for your mistake. You can’t make someone forgive you, but you can forgive yourself.
Mayo Clinic Forgiveness: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/forgiveness/MH00131
Psychology Today Forgiveness: http://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/forgiveness
The International Forgiveness Institute: http://www.internationalforgiveness.com/