Seventy times seven. This is how many times Jesus commanded his disciples to forgive. He then goes on to teach the story of the servant who is forgiven his debts and then turns around and will not forgive debts owed to him. Explaining that we will not be forgiven in Heaven if we do not forgive on Earth. But what is not explained is the power of forgiveness here on Earth. There is powerful spiritual ramifications to the act of forgiving, and for refusing to forgive.
Forgiveness is not necessarily an act of the generosity of the heart granted because the wrongdoer asks. Or done simply out of Religious obligation. Forgiveness is the power of the wronged to free themselves from the harm done by the wrongdoer. And this is the awesomeness of forgiveness. It allows the victim to free themselves. And this applies to whatever the wrong is; whether is just be lies and slander, or more heinous crimes, such as rape. When the victim is wronged the heart and spirit are damaged, and depending on the wrong the damage can be severe. This damage must be healed. And it is through forgiveness that this is done. For if it is not then normally one of two outcomes occurs; the spirit is so broken it leaves the victim in constant pain, they cannot forget the wrong, it haunts them. It prevents them from healthy relationships because they cannot involve their spirit. The other outcome comes from anger, rage, hatred at the perpetrator. These emotions many times are justified BUT… if left to fester, stew, grow they turn into meanness, revenge, hardness of the heart. They poison the spirit with so much negativity. And in fact what happens is that the original wrong continues to harm the victim into the future. And many times the victim themselves, with all this ugliness in the heart, not of their own but put there by the perpetrator, turn around and unleash this ugliness on others, and thus create more victims. The cycle of harm(abuse) continues.
But this is where the power of forgiveness comes in. By forgiving the wrongdoer the victim frees themselves from all the pain, guilt, shame, anger, hatred. By forgiving what the victim is doing is releasing themselves from the harm, letting go of the pain, purging their spirit of the darkness. It’s such a beautiful thing. It’s such a powerful reality. Let me say it again. The victim has the POWER to FREE themselves. That is what forgiveness is. The victim yields this power. And this power of forgiveness is a great as the wrong itself. There is NO unforgivable crime. There is no wrong that forgiveness cannot heal. That is one of the great lies of all time. However, I am not saying it will be easy. No, again depending on the wrong the act of forgiving may be very hard to do… extremely difficult. What must be done is easy. But bringing one’s self to do it might be excruciating. Forgiveness does not have to be an act of charity or goodwill. For many victims, especially those of heinous crimes, it is primarily an act of survival. I believe it has been commonly taught to change your heart and then forgive. I disagree. First forgive. By forgiving the victim releases all the hate, meanness, pain from their heart and this allows the heart then to be purged. It now again can be filled with love, kindness, and generosity.
Remember the act of forgiveness is the victim releasing themselves from harm caused by the wrong, much much more so than releasing the wrongdoer. And forgiveness absolutely does not mean one continues to allow the wrong to continue. Turn the other cheek, and seventy times seven does not translate to allowing oneself to be abused. If a person is being abused by another, forgiveness does not mean the victim stays in that situation. Absolutely not. One forgives, but does not allow the wrong to continue. Depending on the wrong the wrongdoer may still face punishment, administered by the community or the State. The victim forgives to free themselves first. But depending on the wrong (crime), the perpetrator still may have to make restitution.
Granting forgiveness does NOT, I repeat does NOT, have to be done in person. But it does have to come from the heart, the spirit, and it does have to be sincere. It does need to be verbalized. It needs to be spoken. By doing so one is breaking the spell, the grip, the power that the wrong has done and continues to do. One releases, one lets go of the pain. Forgive to free yourself. Forgiveness is a spiritual act. It is from our spirit or heart that we forgive.
In some cases the perpetrator is unrepentant, does not want to be forgiven, does not deserve to be forgiven. That does not matter from the victim’s position. The victim forgives to free themselves first. To purge themselves of the wrong forced upon them by the perpetrator. The wrongdoer is the fortunate secondary benefactor of forgiveness. The primary benefactor is the victim themselves.
To the victims of serious wrongs. Please consider the words above. Free yourself. You have the power and ability to do so. Release yourself from the harm caused by others.