Forgiveness seems impossible and even counter-intuitive when a person has done great harm to you. How can you find it in your heart to forgive an unforgivable act? And yet, when you don’t forgive, you hold on to anger that keeps the perpetrator in your life, continuing to cause you harm. It may be that you will never see them again, but your continued bitterness keeps them very much present in your thoughts and can feel like you are dragging an extra weight that might get heavier over time.
I sometimes wonder if “forgive” is the right word. It implies that you are absolving your perpetrator of responsibility for what they have done. That you are excusing their act(s) and forgetting that what they did was wrong.
Perhaps disarm might be a better word. It can mean to make something harmless or to deprive of the power to injure or hurt. Maybe it would make sense to disarm our perpetrator, but not forgive them. When we let go of our anger and stop obsessing about the harm that was brought upon us, we disarm our perpetrator. But we still maintain the perspective that what the person did was very wrong and that they deserve to be held accountable. When we disarm our perpetrator, we choose to embrace the miracle of life and the possibilities ahead of us, breaking the chains that have been weighing us down.