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“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

Have you ever held a grudge? Have you ever felt uncomfortable around a loved one you wronged and haven’t made up with? Have you ever thought about something you did in the past and not forgiven yourself for your actions? These are all deep and heartfelt questions.

When we hold a grudge, we hold onto a past transgression as if it happened yesterday. The grudge mindset is self-destructive. This mindset continually relives a wrong, repeatedly. In most cases, it blows the action out of proportion and sustains the grudge feeling even more.

If we’ve wronged someone else and fail to apologize, the situation festers and gets worse with time. When we see that person again, we either tuck that wrong away or avoid any type of talk about it. We feel guilty, we feel ashamed, but we don’t know how to progress. Instead, we avoid, we ignore, we may even cut off contact with the person we wronged because of the shame that arises inside when we think about them or see them in person.

When we do something wrong, something we know is wrong, a part of us dies. Like the situation above, we avoid thinking about it, we ignore it, we put it aside. We lie to ourselves to keep some semblance of internal peace. But, the thing we did is still there, poking and prodding us whenever and wherever it can.

How do we avoid all this trouble? We can simply forgive. We can forgive ourselves for something we did, realizing we are learning. We can apologize to the person we wronged as soon as we recognize we harmed them in some way. We can forgive ourselves.

Forgiveness repairs. Forgiveness reduces tension. Forgiveness expresses respect for those we have wronged and to ourselves for being human.

If you have someone in your life you need to forgive, do so. If you have that “thing” in your past that you know was wrong but did anyway, forgive yourself. If there is someone you know that you wronged, apologize. They may forgive you or they may not. Regardless, apologize and move on. Close the loop.

In the future, move more quickly to forgive yourself and others. Apologize immediately if you’ve hurt someone’s feelings or screwed something up. Forgiveness is about love. Forgiveness is about loving others despite their shortcomings, and more importantly, loving yourself for your own shortcomings.

Forgiveness is the final form of love.

Until next time…