When you have experienced deep betrayal, one of the hardest things to do is to practice forgiveness toward the person who wronged you. After all, isn't forgiveness letting the person off the hook somehow? Forgiveness is an exercise that encompasses grace, compassion and a willingness to let go. It also is a chance for you the betrayed to focus on yourself, rather than the person who betrayed you. How does this work? The dictionary definition of forgiveness is to "excuse for a fault or an offense; to pardon", or to "renounce anger or resentment against.". If that doesn't sound like you are letting the perpetrator go, I don't know what does.
But upon further examination, forgiveness is an act that will ultimately benefit you; the person who was wronged, much more than the person who betrayed you. Strange to contemplate, but very true. For Christians, forgiveness is an expectation that restores your relationship with God, for Jews, forgiveness comes after repentance by the wrongdoer.
Repentance is an important component of forgiveness, and according to Dr. Laura, contains these 4 essentials: True remorse, taking responsibility, making efforts to repair and the avoidance of repeating the damaging behavior. When someone who has hurt you makes a concerted effort to achieve these four steps, forgiveness is not only possible, but highly desirable.
Making the effort to forgive someone not only benefits the relationship, but can have major health benefits. When you let go of anger and resentment, your high blood pressure may become lower and you may feel more relaxed and at ease. Letting go of the need for revenge and retaliation is more a gift to yourself, than letting someone off the hook. Try writing your feelings of anger, hurt, revenge and resentment on pieces of paper and then burning them one by one in a fireplace. This act will help you to let go.
Staying stuck in thoughts of unforgiveness not only keeps you tied to the betrayer, but delays the living of your life. You deserve more.