Forgiveness is funny. It's one of those things we're taught when we're young - and we learn quickly. Someone hits us on the playground, the teacher makes him apologize, we say "apology accepted," and within five minutes we're back to playing.
It seems so simple. But then the mistakes and offenses get bigger. We deal with more than a sore arm. There's no one to remind anyone to apologize. Eventually, we forget how to forgive.
We start assigning value. Some things deserve an apology, and some don't. Some apologies are worth accepting, while others are not. We think we're hurting the other person by withholding that forgiveness; teaching him a lesson. We have completely forgotten how nice it was to return to the playground without anger or fear.
Forgiveness isn't something you pick and choose. It isn't a weapon or a lesson. A mistake is a mistake, and one hurt feeling is not worse than another. Forgiveness isn't a reward for an apology, or a long-standing friendship, or because someone is your favorite.
A forgiving heart is one that accepts hurt feelings and then lets the anger go. Forgiveness is a tool; a way to release ourselves from negative feelings and allow light back in.
Does that mean you never get angry? Does it mean that you allow yourself to be mistreated? Is a forgiving heart a weak heart? Of course not.
It means that you have the strength to realize that, at any given moment, everyone you meet is doing the best he can with what he's got. Sometimes that best falls short and leaves you on the losing end. Forgiveness means having the power to pick up the pieces, fix what you can, and move forward.
It keeps your heart light, and keeps those hurt feelings off the playground. So the next time someone says he's sorry, you won't be too hurt to say, "OK."