To forgive is to let go of what is painful to us. This doesn’t mean that it is simply saying to someone, “What you did to me was not really that bad. I forgive you. I won’t hold a grudge,” and then thinking that there will be harmony afterwards. It is not quite that way. Rather, it has more to do with clarifying things to the other person. We don’t want to live through this any more. We want to free ourselves of the suffering and conflict and, if possible, help to free the other person as well.
Sometimes this means letting go of the preconceived judgments we have of people. “He did that because….” She said this because….” What seems true to us at the time may not really be true at all. It’s important to get clarification, to talk, to communicate with the intention of understanding the other person; and, so the other person can understand you.
There is a difference between intentionally hurting someone and unintentional words or actions that hurt someone. Sometimes it is difficult to tell the difference. If we hold onto judgment and anger because we believe that someone intentionally hurt us, then there is no room for understanding or forgiveness. If we find out that the person did not mean to hurt us, then we may be able to allow for understanding and forgiveness. And, of course, sometimes we need to be forgiven as well.