The word forgive is from the old English term forgiefan meaning “to give up” or “give completely”.
I like the simplicity of this old English meaning. It portrays a sense of unloading. A burden gone. No need to fully understand, reconcile, forget or seek justice. Just a need to simply “give up” something negative, to give up a troubled time.
To give up seems different from a common modern definition of forgive, which is usually more akin to the concept of pardon. Pardon focuses more on an end to the desire for revenge or justice. Revenge and pardon are much more complicated. Probably more of what makes forgiveness difficult. Revenge and pardon require processing and judgment. Rather than letting go, they seem to increase the grip of the negative.
Whichever the focus, to give up or to pardon, forgiveness is known to improve health. In a study conducted by Kathleen Lawler at the University of Tennessee, and her associates, people who are more oriented to forgiveness score better on the following proven health indicators:
- Have fewer physical symptoms or concerns
- Take fewer medications
- Sleep better
- Have more energy
My great hope is that you are never burdened with the need to forgive. Yet, if you are, may it be a short-lived time until you are able to give completely.