We can indulge in guilt and shame when we refuse to forgive ourselves, but this most often results in more ineffective behavior and painful emotions. We are all fallible, but have the potential to learn from our experiences and change course. Certainly it hurts when we have been wronged, but hanging onto a perceived right to punish (holding a grudge) also hurts and that injury is insidious in that it will literally destroy our own health and well-being.
One can forgive by choice. Forgiveness is the letting go of the perceived right to punish or apply a sanction for a perceived wrong suffered. Forgiveness is a gift that you give yourself and the other person(s). You can forgive all by yourself and without an apology being offered. All of us are infinitely fallible and will do things that provide the opportunity for forgiveness. Holding grudges is painful and no amount a vengeance ever makes a thing right, so we never feel justified. Learn from experiences and make another choice that has the potential to result in peace within yourself and your relationships.
Luke 6 :38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Col 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Matt 6 :12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Matt 6:14-15 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
I cannot say that I fully appreciate these verses, but what I do know is that the more we practice compassion and forgiveness toward ourselves and others, the more at peace we will be and the more we are likely to experience that compassion and forgiveness when we are in need of it. No, it is not a linear axiom that if you are kind to someone, they will be kind to you. It is a general principle that you will be treated better when you treat others well.
From the spiritual perspective, whether or not we are treated with mercy and forgiveness by others, we are promised mercy from God when we offer mercy to others.
It feels good to receive mercy, so let’s practice the golden rule and practice mercy for the good of others and ourselves.