This is one of those chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas. It seems to me that as we forgive, we grow in the moral virtues, particularly of courage (as we decide to move forward), humility (as we try to see the humanity in the one who acted unfairly), and then eventually in love, particularly agape love, or that which is in service to others for their sake. Agape love costs the one who loves; it can be a struggle to offer goodness to another through a broken heart. These three: courage, humility, and agape love, I think, are major fruits of forgiving.
For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?
First, we have to make a distinction between what forgiveness actually is and how we imperfect people go about forgiving. In its essence, forgiveness is the heroic moral virtue of seeing the inherent worth in the other (not because of what was done, but in spite of this) and then the offer of a caring concern for that other. The caring concern can start as respect and compassion. At its highest level, that concern centers on agape love (the Greek term) which is to try to aid that other person despite one’s own suffering. We imperfect people do not always reach this highest level of forgiving, but it can be a goal toward which we strive.
Learn more at What is Forgiveness?
In my book, The Forgiving Life
, I challenge the reader to start or continue telling his or her life’s story
with an emphasis on putting more love in the world. The emphasis is not on
romantic love, or what the ancient Greeks called eros. Instead, the emphasis is on service love in which a person strives to support and uplift others. This kind of giving-love, in Greek, is agape.
A major challenge is this: No matter how you have lived your life to this point, you can begin, by your motivations, decisions, and actions today, to put more love in the world. This can give you much more meaning and purpose in your life than perhaps you ever thought possible.
Forgiving others can be part of your Unfolding Love Story
. In the name of goodness, is there someone at whom you have annoyance or perhaps deep anger? Your forgiving that person can put more love into the world now by first putting that love in your heart.
It is never too late to alter your story. What can you do today to make a love-difference in this difficult world?