Holy Week: Forgiving and moving forward

I should stress again that forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. Whether there is reconciliation or not, moving on is the only way we can go.
Holy Week: Forgiving and moving forward

As Catholic devotees around the world marked the start of Holy Week last Palm Sunday, President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. enjoined Filipinos to reflect and not to lose sight of the true essence of the occasion by spreading kindness and selflessness.

I wholeheartedly agree with our dear President that spreading kindness and selflessness is important this Holy Week. This transcends not just our love for ourselves but also manifests itself in the good we spread and share with the people around us.

Holy Week commemorates the passion, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and is an opportunity to reflect on the many transcendent encounters of the Catholic faithful.

Since we are indeed commemorating the life of Jesus Christ, it serves to focus on the most endearing and most unique aspect of His life — His endless and limitless ability to forgive, manifested in one of His seven last words, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Forgiveness means different things to different individuals. Generally, it involves intentionally letting go of resentment and anger.

The act that hurt or caused you pain might always be with you. But working on forgiveness can lessen that act's grip on you. It can help free you from the control of the person who caused you pain.

Sometimes, forgiveness might even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy, and compassion for the one who hurt you.

Forgiveness doesn't mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you. It doesn't necessarily mean making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings you a kind of peace that allows you to look at yourself and help you get on with your life.

Forgiveness offers not only a spiritual improvement in one’s being; it also has medical and health manifestations. Various studies and data show that forgiveness leads to (a) healthier relationships, (b) better mental health, (c) less anxiety, stress, and hostility, (d) fewer symptoms of depression, (e) lower blood pressure, (f) stronger immune system, (g) improved heart health, and (h) increased self-esteem.

Notwithstanding these positives, I agree that forgiveness is not easy, especially if the one who hurt you does not admit the wrongdoing. It takes courage and the willingness to look past the offense or wrong done.

Whenever you struggle with forgiveness, you may do the following: (a) recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life; (b) identify what needs healing and whom you want to forgive; (c) join a support group or see a counselor; (d) acknowledge your emotions about the hurt done to you; (e) recognize how those emotions affect your behavior and work to release them; (f) forgive the person who offended you; and (g) release the control and power that the offending person and situation have over your life.

I should stress again that forgiveness is not synonymous with reconciliation. Forgiveness may lead to reconciliation if the painful event involves someone whose relationship you value. But that isn't always the case. Reconciliation may be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation is not.

In such instances, it is best to look at the advantages of forgiveness and move forward.

Whether there is reconciliation or not, moving on is the only way we can go.

I pray that we all can be kind, selfless, and forgiving this Holy Week. Let us move forward with hope and optimism, with kindness, selflessness, and forgiveness as the cornerstones of our choice to move forward and live life.

Have a restful and blessed Holy Week.

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