God forgives us and we reconcile with Him in the sacrament of Penance. Although it is generally desirable to reconcile with our neighbor when we forgive him, the reconciliation is not absolutely necessary for forgiveness. We can forgive our neighbor without reconciling with him, and in some cases, such as an abusive spouse and a pedophile, arm length forgiveness is highly recommended.
“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matthew 6:12). The command does not require the restoration of relationships existing prior to transgressions. The key word is debt — God in your mercy forgive me when I have sinned against you as I forgive my neighbor when he has sinned against me. We should obey the command because the Divine Master has taught it to us.
Forgiveness is to pardon someone who has harmed us to prevent negative thoughts and emotions to harm our mental health. When we forgive wrongdoing we replace negative emotions, such as anger and resentment, with positive emotions, such as love and kindness, for our own peace of mind. Forgiveness is the virtue of the wise and brave! We do not erase injury from our minds, but we overcome negativity and move to positivity.
There are four elements in forgiveness:
• Acknowledgement of wrongdoing to the self
• Understanding the rationale of wrongdoing
• Safety restoration
• Letting go
We must relive the negative emotions we experience with transgression to expunge them. We choose to let ourselves free, though to erase all anger, hurt and resentment may take months or yours years to make peace with our past. Safety restoration creates and environment in which we are not harmed again. We may decide to avoid the transgressor, end a relationship, establishing new boundaries, or reconciling, which means restoring harmony with the transgressor.