I call this the other "F" word.
No, not because it is insulting or derogatory in any way. It is just that it has so much charge associated with it, almost like the word "God". Many people are turned off by it, and some people get defensive when this word is mentioned as a possibility to heal and change a situation.
I think that is because we each have such varied definitions of forgiveness.
Oh yes, I have heard about forgiveness since I was a little girl. What I thought as of forgiveness was simply not to talk about the issue or think about it anymore. On the surface, all was "forgiven", but not really.
In my early 30s, something happened in my life that shook me to the core and brought out all my fears. I felt bewildered, trapped and scared.
Right around that time, someone gave me a book by Gary Zukav "The Seat of the Soul". I read it to take my mind off the situation. And, somewhere in it, I remembered reading that when we are faced with a challenge, practice going within to ask what our soul wants us to learn through the challenge.
I had nothing to lose, so I tried this exercise. To my surprise, I heard a reply from within: "To forgive."
I wasn't expecting anything would actually happen, so I was surprised to hear anything, Something or someone from within was actually answering me.
However, I didn't know how to forgive. I could think of Jesus' famous words on the cross: "Father, forgive them for they know not what they were doing." But that didn't feel right to me because I was so sure the people involved knew what they were doing, so I wasn't going to use Jesus' line because it didn't feel congruent to me. So, I asked myself another question: "How?"
I was flashed with a loving feeling, what I now recognized as a feeling of gratitude. I understood that all I need to do to forgive is to send this loving feeling outward to the situation and the people involved.
So, I did as guided, not knowing that this little decision to obey my inner guidance would have such an incredible impact in my life.
To my surprise, within a day the situation was changed 180 degrees, and the people involved came to an understanding. The end result actually was quite to my liking and felt right to me. What a miracle for me.
That's when I understood the meaning and the power of forgiveness.
It wasn't about "Oh, what happened was OK, I can handle it" (because I couldn't, frankly speaking). It wasn't about "I forgive you because I am so enlightened" (because I didn't even know how to forgive at the time). It wasn't about "I forgive you because what is happening is OK with me" (because it wasn't).
To me, forgiveness is about opening up to feel the love inside me when it was hard to find it all around me. It was about giving myself the permission to feel better no matter what was happening outside.
Come to think of it, forgiveness was really about practicing to remember the love that I have within me. Forgiveness is really about me -- not about the other people involved.
May you discover the love that you are capable of being, having, receiving and giving.