The art of forgiveness

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” — Mark Twain

I’ve been thinking about the nature of forgiveness.

How everyone says what a release it is finally to forgive; yet it is one of the hardest things for us to do.

Is it the pain that holds us back? Or is it simply the fact that we have to learn to love ourselves more than we think we deserve before we can love others the same way?

Forgiveness won’t change the past – or the resentments we can find there – but it might, perhaps, transform our future.

What are your thoughts on the art of forgiveness?




41 responses

  1. Blu

    I assumed anger, and foolish pride hold people back from forgiveness.

    Most everyday events can be forgiven, but there has to be some evil acts that one cannot.

    I am a great believer of life is just too short, so better to clear the air and start again.


    October 30, 2010 at 16:37

  2. That beautiful butterfly looks frosty!
    As Pope said, ‘To err is human, to forgive, divine.’
    It is difficult to forgive graciously. It is almost impossible to forgive and forget.
    I’m not good at forgiving, though I try.


    October 30, 2010 at 16:53

  3. forgiving…i think there is health in release others from our ire…i always caution though that forgiveness does not mean i will allow you to do it again…


    October 30, 2010 at 17:09

  4. I am usually a very forgiving person. Your photos us just lovely. The colors are beautiful. Well done!


    October 30, 2010 at 17:14

  5. I think people get confused about forgiveness – they tend to think it is a sign of weakness and a license to re-offend, which it most certainly is not. There’s such a vengeful attitude in the press that someone who is strong enough to forgive, properly, causes confusion.

    Forgiving someone who has really hurt or upset you takes courage, strength and perseverance.


    October 30, 2010 at 17:17

  6. Forgiveness means to finally and completely let something go. The pain of not forgiving lives inside of us, in our bodies and psyches. To forgive is to free ourselves from the pain of the past.

    Beautiful photos here.


    October 30, 2010 at 17:27

  7. That it’s hard. And for me, it’s much easier to forgive a stranger than someone close to me.


    October 30, 2010 at 18:45

  8. Forgiveness is definitely an act to help oneself move on and has little to do with the one who is forgiven. And yet, it’s not an easy task. Forgiving ourselves is even harder still.


    October 30, 2010 at 19:27

  9. Forgiving is what you do for yourself, so you don’t carry around the anger and pain inside yourself. When we’re talking about forgiving serious, serious stuff, “letting go of it” is very difficult emotionally even though rationally and intellectually you want to do it and know it would be good for you. Emotions aren’t always subject to reason.


    October 30, 2010 at 19:50

  10. I think forgiveness is often misunderstood. It doesn’t mean that the person who hurt me shouldn’t still deal with the consequences, I believe (i mean, depending on the issue), just that I have let it go and don’t wish the person any harm. I don’t dwell on it, replay the situation in my mind, but I do recognize the hurt and damage caused. As much as lies with me, I am at peace with that person.


    October 30, 2010 at 20:38

  11. Amy

    Really good post Fi and I think the answers you’ve gotten from other posters have been really good. I think forgiving the little things is easier then the bigger ones…and especially from people close to you, you don’t expect them to hurt you and when you do it is hard to forgive…but you try- for loved ones.
    Beautiful photo….there is something magical about frost..


    October 30, 2010 at 21:52

  12. Amy

    Oh, by the way, have meant to tell you this the last few days I’ve read your blog- love the new layout!!! :-))


    October 30, 2010 at 21:53

  13. Di

    To be honest. I can’t forgive until I get an apology from the offender. I guess that’s not an ‘art’ but it’s the way I have always been.



    October 30, 2010 at 22:09

  14. the little bluebell all frosty. But still going strong. It can take it. 🙂


    October 30, 2010 at 22:32

  15. If I have trouble forgiving myself, I get stuck forgiving others. Only by practicing self-forgiveness can I hope to gift it to someone else. Your frosty photo is actually a good metaphor for forgiveness, Fi.


    October 30, 2010 at 23:07

  16. I have to agree with Barb above. I think we have to learn to forgive ourselves before we are able to offer true forgiveness to others.
    If we are able to forgive others we are giving ourselves a gift.


    October 30, 2010 at 23:43

  17. I think lots of things can keep us from forgiving. It can be a hurt so deep that we think forgiving will make that hurt stay forever (it won’t, but we foolishly think that). It can be arrogance, believing another person does not deserve to be forgiven, or self centeredness, not wanting to let go of the hurt because its so familiar.

    It is hard to forgive, but I think we have to do it to live well.


    October 31, 2010 at 01:55

  18. I believe whole heartedly 100% in forgiveness. If it were not for the art of forgiveness I would not be able to here and have an ounce of happiness or sanity. Forgiveness is not just for the person we grant forgiveness to but as a grand gift we give ourselves. It’s a release…it helps us let go of something that can keep us bound or trapped otherwise.

    So many think of forgiveness as meaning to forget. There are some things we will never forget…we are only human.

    For me the hardest person to forgive is myself…I still struggle with this daily.

    There is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for the forgiveness that has been granted to me. XX


    October 31, 2010 at 03:22

  19. I am to g0od t0 f0rgive but n0t stupid to trust 0nce m0re,br0ken glass will never be fix..

    beach,bridge and walls @ cijin


    October 31, 2010 at 05:04

  20. Without forgiveness, we are like lost souls.

    Your gorgeous photograph of a frosted bellflower (a Campanula patula) is an image of strength and perseverance in the face of adversity – true beauty, indeed!


    October 31, 2010 at 08:12

  21. lilalia

    I once read that forgiveness is a process of grieving for what you have lost. The first step towards forgiving something for something they have said or done, is to realise what those words or actions took away from you. Often that what you have lost is not only something concrete (like the loss of a friendship), but deeper as well (loss in your ability to trust in your instincts). If you can mourn those deeper losses, you will eventually be able to forgive the others.


    October 31, 2010 at 12:14

  22. New layout. Wow!
    Forgiveness is hard to do, but easier if you put your mind into it. The heart will follow.


    October 31, 2010 at 16:47

  23. I’m better at forgiving others than at forgiving myself, though it does require a conscious effort.

    I absolutely love that icy photo, though it makes me shiver to think of the cold outside!


    October 31, 2010 at 16:54

  24. Kate Pointer

    Forgiving ourselves is not the point in a case in which harm has been done to you, whether out of sheer absent-mindedness, or actual meanness or even cruelty.
    Or maybe I don’t understand what the expression is precisely supposed to mean? Is it a way to express being at peace with oneself?
    Thanks Rachel and lilalia for what you point out (interpretations and process of grieving), which actually seems an interesting part of an answer.
    Great exchange! more, please 🙂


    October 31, 2010 at 21:30

  25. Kate Pointer

    I find understanding what happened and why, helps to come to terms with an upsetting event. Even just supposed reasons are sometimes good enough, which is why I agree that strangers have the benefit of the doubt!


    October 31, 2010 at 21:40

  26. First, I love the photo you’ve paired with your thoughts…Forgiving the frost for coating the bloom and creating transformation…I love what you wrote about forgiveness transforming the future…but I think too that it transforms us in the present…and that that is key. When we can love ourselves enough to not need the love and approval of others to feel safe and whole (not that love an approval from others is a bad thing..just not necessary)…then, then we can be ok with things as they are. Equanimity.


    October 31, 2010 at 21:44

  27. First of all, that is a stunning photo. And I just love the quote from Mark Twain.

    Forgiving is not a sign of weakness…it’s a sign of strength. However, “Forgive and forget” is something I struggle with. I do forgive because it’s just too stressful to not forgive especially if it involves someone I love.. But I never really forget. Something I need to learn.


    October 31, 2010 at 22:06

  28. I think a lot of emotional abuse happens to people in the name of forgiveness. The demand of others to forgive grievous offenses done to someone is often a focus, further victimizing the actual victim who now carries guilt for healthy anger they have toward what has been done to them. The key about forgiveness is allowing it to take the time it takes, and not telling someone else what they need to forgive. My 2 cents :).


    October 31, 2010 at 22:37

  29. Maggie May

    I agree with you that forgiving is sometimes the hardest thing to do and is it ever possible to forget if you’ve been hurt?
    I am still learning to really forgive and I think it takes a really long time to get anywhere with a major issue.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May


    October 31, 2010 at 23:50

  30. I think that true forgiveness … where you really don’t think of what “they did to you” anymore” is very very difficult. But, you’re right, it feels very good when you can do it. So much lighter to just let it go.

    Lovely photo … as always.


    November 1, 2010 at 00:49

  31. The more confident we feel in our own worth, the easier it is to forgive the foibles of others, I think.
    The Twain quote is wonderful.


    November 1, 2010 at 02:04

  32. Forgiveness is something that I struggle with in just one area of my life. I can forgive most things and most people, but there is one person that I just can’t forgive. I don’t know how to reconcile forgiving them with still loving myself. I understand that it is a release, but I’m having a hard time forgiving the unforgivable.


    November 1, 2010 at 02:44

  33. I definitely believe life is too short to harbor petty grudges! I think I’ve been very lucky in my life not to have too many people who have ever done knowingly done anything horrible to me. And I hope nobody can say that I ever have — to them.


    November 1, 2010 at 03:32

  34. I am reading this AFTER last night’s news of the suicide bomber in Istanbul….and I just don’t know how to answer it.
    Forgiveness is critical to our development as people, but sometimes my lack of understanding people and their actions makes forgiveness seem so far away….


    November 1, 2010 at 06:48

  35. I agree with you completely Fi. But I think if I was in the situation where I was required to make that sacrifice I know I would really struggle. Thanks for bringing the subject up for consideration – Dave


    November 1, 2010 at 10:18

  36. Forgiveness it the greatest gift… And the toughest to give!!
    Lovely picture, very beautiful…


    November 1, 2010 at 15:28

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  38. I linked to you today.


    November 1, 2010 at 18:10

  39. Forgiveness is a growing experience in my eyes. It’s hard to do at first. Especially when you need to forive yourself for some transgression you did.

    Forgiveness is also an experience of growth. Once you’ve learned how, you never go back, in my eyes. You’ve let go of that cloud that is hovering above you, and it is liberating.

    The art of forgiveness is… awesome. The trick is knowing that YOU need to be the one to do it… for your own self, not for anybody else.


    November 2, 2010 at 22:54

  40. I find the forgiving easy..the forgetting not so much. Especially with the repeat offenders..I call them the “I” people..I this I that..I, I, all drives me nuts.
    I know being a good Christian woman and all..I should turn the other cheek..that is hard for me to do..especially the second or third time.
    Your lovely little Bluebell needs a blanket:)


    November 3, 2010 at 01:54

  41. I don’t think you can actively forgive people. I think at some point you may just care less.


    November 3, 2010 at 14:49

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