I came across this quote recently, while listening to an audiobook, about the idea of what forgiveness means. I had to go back and relisten a few times because I never really thought about it in this way.

Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different.

This was really interesting to me, because up to now I had always thought that forgiveness was really more about accepting that something happened in a way that meant making it okay, often times for another person. Making amends.

By realizing that it’s more about accepting that it has happened, and by the very act of acknowledging that it occurred and it’s in the past therefore cannot be changed, I can accept it and make a choice for myself about how to move on. Not making it okay. Not having to make amends, if you don’t want to engage with the other person. Not being ruled by the situation in the present. Rather, simply giving up the hope that the past could have been any different than it was. For me, there is something very freeing in this approach.

Then I began to think about how many things I hold onto. Something someone said. Something someone did. To me. To my kids. To my husband. To my brother when we were nine. To my mother when she showed generosity and received unkindness or thoughtlessness in return. The length of the list kind of surprises me and feels so heavy.

What if, I simply note those events, old and new, that linger in my mind? Those events about which I hold onto a sense of blaming, what ifs and whys? What if, I acknowledge them and release the hope that the past could have been any different? How would I feel? Somehow I think a lot lighter. I could empty the suitcase of grudges, anger and hurt that I’ve been almost unknowingly carrying around, and be free.

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