Forgiveness is a choice the forgiver makes to let go of resentment
held in the forgiver's mind of a perceived wrong or difference, either
actual or imagined. As the choice of forgiveness is made in the mind
of the forgiver, it can be made about any resentment, whether toward
another, oneself, a group, a situation or even one's God. Forgiveness
of another can be granted with or without the other asking for
forgiveness. Forgiveness does not entail condoning the wrong or
difference which the resentment is focused on.
Forgiveness can be seen as a religious value. However, belief in a
deity is not necessary for forgiveness. It can be motivated by love,
philosophy, appreciation for the forgiveness of others, empathy, or
personal temperament. Even pure pragmatism can lead to forgiveness, as
it is well documented that people who forgive are happier than those
who hold grudges.
You can do therapeutic work, or have a large network of people for
support, but still not feel forgiven. That sort of forgiveness often
requires atonement or amends to be made, actions to be performed.
Often when we have reached the point of wanting or desiring
forgiveness for ourselves or from others, we are doing this in the
light of actions we have done, wrongs we have committed.
In all wisdom traditions, it was customary to give some kind of
offering, or sacrifice, for atonement. You can create your own
sacrifice by asking yourself, "What will be my offering?" It could be
philanthropy, political activism ? something that requires a sacrifice
of your time, money or effort. The key is to consciously make that
sacrifice in light of your desire for forgiveness.
Changing our ways, such as giving up alcohol or drug abuse, often
brings the long list of our previous actions to mind with stark raving
clarity. The action of our "staying sober" or clean, doesn't seem to
dwindle these emotions, in fact they appear to grow larger, even
crushing at times. We have to keep in mind that the act of remaining
sober is for us, and really only qualifies us for the air we breath
and the space we take up. While it does put us in a position of no
longer continuing to hurt those around us, it does not make up for the
actions we did in the past.
By making amends for these actions to those we have hurt, we are
really healing ourselves and allowing our minds to rest easier. Desire
and thought is never a substitute or cure for actions. It is often
said that we can not think ourselves into right action, we must act
ourselves into right thinking.
A.A. Recovery Steps 8 and 9
Ninth Step Promises
Ritual for Forgiveness