“Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim.” – C.R. Strahan
I once heard that refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick. Dramatic as this may sound, take a look at your own life and see if the description doesn’t fit some of your relationships.
Certainly, when we’re trapped in the world of blame and judgment, forgiveness can seem like a terribly unfair and bitter pill. Particularly for those who’ve endured abuse, loss, and pain:
Why should we forgive those who have hurt us? Why should we let them get away with what they’ve done?
The answer is: so that we can reclaim our own freedom and power.
To do so, we need an altogether different perspective on forgiveness than the traditional “right-wrong” model. In this new view, forgiveness doesn’t mean that you condone what has happened. It isn’t a sign of weakness or resignation; as Gandhi said: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”
Forgiveness means that you are choosing to release the grip you have continued to allow people and situations from your past to have over you in the present.
It is a gift of acceptance you give to yourself; the very gift that allows for true freedom from all that has come before.
In my work, I often encounter performers and professionals alike stuck in and stunted by past relationships and events that, hard as they try, they simply can’t get over. And they try very hard… not only is a great deal of time spent attempting to understand and reconcile the hurt and damage they feel has been done to them, these issues often become preoccupations that prevent them from participating in and enjoying life.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Certainly there is an impact of what has happened to us; certainly understanding can lead to acceptance. Yet ultimately, a choice must be made: whether we will remain beholden to blame and continue to be a victim of circumstance, or whether we will empower ourselves by making peace with and forgiving what has happened, so that we can be free.
Learn more about forgiveness in Jennifer’s new book: The Art of Singing Onstage and in the Studio.
The Art of Forgiveness originally published in The Huffington Post