We have all experienced let down before. It can sting, and create long lasting bitterness that does not easily go away. It does not take long for that bitterness to turn into anger. When people experience anger and choose to withhold forgiveness, they will often do so in the hope of causing the transgressor a similar pain. Usually, however, it is not the transgressor that hurts most. Withholding forgiveness causes severe physical and emotional stress, inhibits the ability to have lasting relationships, and prevents one from moving on with life. Withholding forgiveness hurts the victim more than anyone else. So how does one forgive?
There are two practical ways to cultivate forgiveness. First, look at the big picture. Ask yourself, “How will this issue affect me 10 years from now.” Sometimes the truthful answer is that you won’t even remember the incident a month from then, let alone 10 years. For those transgressions that are not easily forgiven by looking at the big picture, one can practice taking the viewpoint of the offender. Not forgiving can have one viewing the offender as completely evil. In one’s mind the person is solely defined by the wrong they have committed. It is helpful to consider what the offender suffered in his/her own life? How has he/she been wounded by other people? What are some factors that may have influenced their judgment? These considerations can help move one to a place of forgiveness.