This has always been something I've struggled with in my faith and life. According to the dictionary forigve means to cease to feel resentment against or to pardon an offense or an offender. Seems simple enough, but putting it into practice is another story.
Is forgiveness a conscious choice, a physical act involving the will, or is it a feeling, an emotional state of being? If your a Christian, as I am, the bible tells us in Colossians 3:13 to forgive one another as He has forgiven us. As humans we think it's our place to judge, convict and correct "bad" behavior. And while that may be true in order for us to live in a civilized community removed from anarchy, forgiveness IS also a necessity.
Think about all the times your child has done wrong. Bad grades, broke curfew, didn't make their bed, back-talked...whatever the offense. And as parents, we judge that it's bad behavior, convict that they are wrong and correct the "wrong" with the assumption they will learn how to behave properly. But we also forgive! We do not feel resentment toward them...we pardon them for their offense.
As the offenses get bigger our forgiveness becomes more difficult. When a parent abuses, a spouse cheats, a child betrays you...that's when your faith and ability to forgive is tested...really tested. You have two choices...forgive and rebuild or don't forgive, stay angry and let the offense destroy your life. Believe it or not, not forgiving is just as hard on you as it is on the offender. But how do you forgive? You're angry and hurt! A dear friend of mine told me sometimes you have to take a "leap of faith". Forgiveness is not saying that your ok with whatever the offense was...we forgive out of obedience to the Lord. It is a choice, a decision we make. However, as we do this "forgiving," we discover the command is in place for our own good, and we receive the reward of our forgiveness - freedom.
Everyone has the desire to be loved and accepted. If you look back in the history of broken families, drug/alcohol addicts and serial criminals you will find it all began from the desire to feel loved and accepted. They made a mistake (big or small) and didn't receive forgiveness from those they loved...so they lost hope/faith and ultimately became lost. From the little child who exhibits bad behavior to get Mom & Dad's attention, to the spouse who cheats because they feel unloved/lonely, to the drug addict who gets high to numb the pain of loneliness. Love your friends, parents, children and siblings! We ALL make mistakes. Forgive as you would like to be foregiven. Love as you would like to be loved. Look beyond the offense at the reasons "why"...love without reservation or condition.