Forgiveness can be both a difficult act and a simple task to accomplish. The reasons for these polar-opposite responses depend strongly upon three major factors, one could say four factors. The three reasons are the offender’s remorse, the attitude of the offended, and the sincerity of the relationship between the two, past and present. The fourth factor is, in my opinion, the ability for both parties to forgive not only each other but themselves.
The remorse of the offender is crucial to the first step of forgiveness. This is true for him to gain the feeling be being forgiven. The offended may have forgiven the offender long ago in his heart without speaking the words. Forgiveness is peace that both parties need to strive towards.
The attitude of the offended is as equally as important as the remorse of the offender. The offender may be sincere in his apology, but cannot be forgiven if the offended remains hurt by the misdeed or has hurt feelings directed towards the offender. This factor comes down to the pain the offended is causing himself. Thus, the offended becomes the offender.
This inability to forgive, in essence, is revenge. The original offended desires for his offender to experience equal or more pain and suffering. If forgiveness is not sought by both parties this act of revenge becomes an unbreakable cycle that only forgiveness is able to shatter.
The importance of the relationship prior to the offense comes to the forefront. If the relationship had any significance then it should outweigh the offense. Both parties need to come to this conclusion independently of one another, with the intent to speak about the offense and their relationship prior, present, and future of the current time.
Forgiveness of self is important in the whole process of forgiveness of the other person. An offense is usually not an act committed by one person alone. The offender may have done the initial misdeed, but the offended may commit a counter measure of holding a grudge.
In order to be capable of forgiving the offender the offended first needs to forgive himself for the negative feelings he may have towards the offender. And on the other hand, the offender needs to forgive himself for committing the offense in the first place before he can seek true forgiveness.
This method may not always stand true. Forgiveness may come by other means. We must seek forgiveness from God the Father daily. Every sin, no matter how small or how large, God is able to forgive, if we the offenders seek Him in truth and humility. We must also ask the Father for the ability to forgive self, as well as to forgive others. This is another amazing gift He bestows upon us by means of the Holy Spirit through the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, our Lord and Saviour.