does not mean that an offense didn’t matter
is not ignoring an offense
does not require the offender’s request nor repentance
is not a one time act
does not mean there aren’t consequences
does not minimize an offense
does not exaggerate an offense
is choosing not to hold an offense against another (though choices may still be made in light of it)
is letting go of one’s bitterness
is a decision one must continually choose to hold to
allows healing to begin
allows one to not be consumed by anger
For example, two people are in a relationship, and one cheats on the other. The offended person chooses to forgive the offender. This means that they are going to choose to not continually hold that against the other person—even in their thoughts—and are therefore not going to allow themselves to be consumed by bitterness. They will no doubt still be hurt and upset about it, and it will still take time to heal. One of the results of the offense is that the relationship is broken, and consequentially, the offended person ends the relationship.
Ending the relationship in this hypothetical scenario doesn’t mean there was a lack of forgiveness. A person may forgive someone who committed a crime against them, but this doesn’t mean the criminal wouldn’t or shouldn’t serve their sentence. Forgiveness doesn’t excuse an offense. I say this in part because abusers may well urge their victims to “forgive” (meaning “drop it”) as a way to silence them. This isn’t forgiveness. Forgiveness is simply a necessary step toward healing in which the offended says, “I’m not going to let this consume my thoughts and feelings.”
Forgiveness can lead to reconciliation and restoration of a relationship, but it doesn’t necessarily mean this. Forgiveness is something the offended person does themselves. Reconciliation, on the other hand, requires both parties to work to mend the relationship. This likely will require the offender’s repentance—which means change, not simply feeling sorry nor apologizing.