I forgive when I give up my right to hurt you for hurting me. You have wounded me deeply. It makes me feel diminished, unworthy. And it was a blow delivered unfairly, wrongly, an intentional betrayal.
And you have not asked me to forgive you. You have not apologized, you have not begged, you have not offered restitution for what you have done. Indeed, you need never know that I have forgiven you.
When I forgive you, I give up my right to self-righteous anger, to self-pity, to bitterness. I choose to see you as a human being like me, not as something different, alien, from myself.
In forgiving you, I face up to the pain of what you have done to me, but I choose to move on. My life has changed. I can never go back to what my life was before and our relationship cannot be the same. I am open to the possibility of a relationship with you, but I am not obligated to restore it.
My memory will force me to relive again and again the wrong you have done to me. So I will have to forgive you anew each day. But I choose to do that, rather than stoke the fires of hate each day.
I choose to remember the past and what has happened between us in a way that gives me hope for my future. I choose not to look back, but to move forward through my changed life.
Adapted from "The Art of Forgiving," by Lewis B. Smedes.