Forgiveness and the Open Heart

A few days ago I wrote a post, “Forgiveness as a Path to Freedom” (Aug. 21). This morning I read an interesting quote that caused me to think more about forgiveness:

Forgivenss entered my life through my heart, not my head.

(From “The Years that the Locust Hath Eaten”, Best of the Grapevine, April 1977)

This little quote makes me wonder how it is that our heads get in the way of forgiveness. Perhaps it is because in our heads, we are always seeking some kind of order. It is in our heads that we consider cause and effect which helps keep us out of trouble.

Here are some arguments against forgiveness that the head might make:

– If I forgive, I might be giving the person permission to hurt me again.

– If I forgive, the person will not feel the sting of what he or she imposed upon me

– If I forgive, the person may keep doing what they did to me or to others

– If I forgive, it will feel like submission to an enemy

– If I forgive it will feel like admitting I am wrong when I know that they are wrong.

– If I forgive, they may never learn from their mistake.

– I shouldn’t forgive until I get a sincere apology

– I shouldn’t forgive until the other person makes restitution for the harm done.

– If I forgive, I may lose the allegience of others who have stood by my side when I was suffering.

All of this makes sense…mind sense. But all of the reasons are based on fear of what might happen. We are making up the outcome scenerios in our heads. They are mythical until they actually happen. We are withholding forgiveness based on our fears instead of reality. It is true that past experience may make any of these outcomes seem more possible, but still it is the fear that holds us back.

In the light of all of these mind-sensical reasons for not forgiving, one wonders why people ever forgive anything. Perhaps that is why the author says that forgiveness comes through the heart. Through the mind, there is no open passage. When a mind is so cluttered, it is only through an open heart open that forgiveness can find its way in.

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3 Responses to Forgiveness and the Open Heart

  1. Colin Taylor says:

    It is my firm belief that forgiveness is impossible. We can only manage to audibly recreate it.
    “I forgive you” Is as good as it gets.
    You may have been wronged in one or more countless ways, it is difficult to conceive of any other reason “forgiveness” may be required other than a “wronging” purposefully or otherwise.
    We are hard wired to recall and react to situations or concepts that threaten our survival. Why would we not retain the essence, consciously and emotionally, of a wronging that forewarns us of its possible repetition? Regardless of any moral principle not to react to the wrongdoer adversely, it is impossible to clean the slate and not retain the details of a persons intentions, their actions and the outcome by which you were wronged.
    At this point we need to define forgiveness, I could possibly write reams about it, and still not get to the bottom of it. What I do know is, as a concept it must stem from having come to terms with the issue that has caused the offence, but whilst you still retain a memory of it, it would be impossible to dispel the hurt or mischief it caused. In my view, unless your memory was “rebooted” forgiveness is merely a charade. I certainly see no substance in it and never offer it or seek to receive it.
    Sorry about that!

    • Judy says:

      I started writing a reply but you got me thinking so much that I decided to write my reply as a blog. Hope you don’t mind. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your candor.

    • Jill says:

      To me forgiveness does not mean that you dispel the hurt or harm that was done. It means that you let it go. It no longer holds any power over you. It has nothing to do with the person that caused the hurt and everything to do with the power you give it over your own life. While we may not forget, I truely believe forgiveness is possible.

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