Learning to Forgive With or Without an Apology

by Joshua Tilghman on August 13, 2013

Forgiveness HealsEditor’s Note: Below is a guest post by Joe Lapaglia about forgiveness. I thought this article could remind us how important forgiveness is for the individual’s personal spiritual development. As an introduction I would like to throw a little esoteric light on the topic of forgiveness from the Bible using Jesus’ words:

“For if you forgive men of their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. But if you forgive men not their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses” (Matt 6:14-15).

At first glance, these verses could imply that God is like the spoiled child who will only do this if you first do that, but an esoteric understanding of the above scriptures shows us that forgiving isn’t really about God or others—it’s about ourselves. This is because on a level beyond the ego you and God are already one, so Jesus’ words let us know that forgiveness naturally brings healing back to you! Enjoy.

Learning to Forgive With or Without an Apology

Mary Johnson’s story is one of ultimate forgiveness. In 1993, her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was shot and killed by Oshea Israel at a party in Minneapolis. Israel was eventually convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in jail. According to People.com, the story didn’t end there. In 2003, Israel and Johnson met while he was in Stillwater Prison. As a Christian, Johnson had decided that she had to extend the hand of forgiveness to this man who had murdered her son, and in order to do so, she would have to meet and talk with him.

As she spoke with Israel, Johnson realized that the young man in front of her had a lot in common with her son. She also realized that by forgiving him, much of the anger and bitterness that had been eating away at her for years had suddenly been released from her body. While Johnson’s story is an extreme example of forgiving, it is an excellent illustration of why it is so important to forgive.

Poison From Within

In her book “Traveling Mercies,” author Ann Lamott compared not forgiving to swallowing rat poison and then waiting for the varmint to die. Why? Because, in the end, all that bitterness and rage that you feel towards another person is bad for your health and well-being. Even worse, the person you are angry with probably isn’t even aware that you are harboring ill will towards them.

According to many health experts, including the Mayo Clinic, the person who benefits the most when you decide to forgive is you. You will have less anxiety and will be able to enjoy healthier relationships with others. Often when we are angry with a person, that bitterness seeps over and poisons the other relationships in our lives.

Forgiveness is Hard

Pastor Ed Young wrote on a blog, “Forgiveness is the Real F Word.” He goes on to say “for our future to flourish, we’ve got to make peace with our past.” In other words, while forgiving those who have wronged you may not be easy, it needs to be done. If you never forgive those who you believe have hurt you, chances are great that you will be mired in the past, dwelling on your painful and hurtful experiences, instead of creating a new and better future.

Beginning the Process

Some people mistake forgiving for condoning, but that is completely off base. Mary Johnson did not condone Oshea Israel’s murder of her son, nor was she forgetting what he had done. Instead, she was freeing herself from the anger and bitterness that had built up in her system.

The first step in the forgiving process is to acknowledge that you’ve been hurt and then seriously think about your anger and resentment and what, if any, good carrying it around in your heart has done for you. Once you realize that holding onto this rage is not accomplishing anything for you, it is time to let it go and to forgive the other person. Some people can do this mentally. Others prefer to use a symbolic gesture to release their pent-up anger, such as writing down the person’s name and crime on a piece of paper and then setting it afire. Do whatever works best for you, but it is important for your well-being to learn how to forgive.

Conclusion: In the above article, the author pointed out that not forgiving can be compared to rat poison because it builds anxiety and bitterness in the individual. Esoterically, we understand that this is true because negative emotions like anxiety and bitterness have a low vibrational frequency which reinforces the lower ego and personality, supporting death. Emotions which give off a higher vibrational frequency support cellular life more than it harms it, extending the physical life-span of the individual. But more importantly, forgiveness is a function of love that adds to the causal body a lasting soul quality that is intrinsic to our higher natures.

Do you have a story that reflects the above truths?

In the next post we’re going to look at what the “great and terrible day of the Lord” really means for us as individuals and what we can do esoterically to prepare. We’ll also address the issue of whether or not the personality really dies at death.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

anny August 17, 2013 at 12:28 pm

This is a beautiful post although not exactly new to me. I cannot understand how anyone could see it otherwise. I have lived with it all my life and I think it saved me a lot of pain.



selina August 19, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Yes I totally agree that forgiveness is the key to be able to live a peaceful existence.I know by experience of not forgiving someone felt like and it took me two years to finally let go and forgive them,my anger and hate that i felt towards them just vanished.


Joshua Tilghman August 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm

So true, Selina. I learned this many years ago, and it has helped me so much. Blessings.


Brian August 31, 2013 at 6:42 pm

I am in recovery from leukemia.

Five years ago, I was devastated by my second wife’s decision to divorce me. This was my second divorce. I have forgiven both women for my perceived injustices to the extent that I now rarely experience strong emotions and in my higher moments prefer to let them simply walk out of my mind. At the material level, I no longer have anything to do with either of them.

Instead, I think I turned my anger towards God; especially as He is described by Fundamentalist Christians. These feelings were in part inspired by Richard Dawkins, whom I felt had a good point to make about triviality and deception which I felt were embedded in their apparent certainties. Although, I now also sense an excessive level of anger or frustration that I also shared.

Above all I felt stupid for having believed in the promise of marriage as being made in Heaven of the most trustworthy stuff. Obviously I must have missed the point somewhere along the line.

Then six months ago, I was diagnosed with an acute myeloid leukemia, requiring immediate chemotherapy in hospital for four months.

As fate would have it, I was in a strange city and therefore did not have one hospital visitor during this time. So, I was very grateful to chat with the hospital chaplains who by and large were wonderfully generous human beings, whose main agenda was to relieve me of any misery.

In spite of knowing all this intellectually, at the end of their visit I felt a resentment against their religious schema, like them wanting to pray for me as well as any talk that God would rescue me from all evil.

In the manner of Dawkins I asked myself, “how can you be so sure of your faith? I know you can’t trust these simplistic notions. I know from experience that evil catastrophe is lurking within your naiivete!”

Then it dawned on me that my resentment was hurting others; and probably myself, perhaps in the form of my immune system turning on me. Was my leukemia an acceptable form suicide from a life that had become futile?

Since then I have made some decisions.

I made a conscious decision that I wanted to live, in spite of any spiritual pain I may experience along the way.

I have tried to recover my belief in Namaste; “The God in me acknowledges the God in you.” Or as Lincoln expressed it, “Look for the good in any human and you will surely find it.”

I have also chosen to believe that a large part of my recovery, which is moving forward at a great pace, can be based upon a more forgiving outlook.

My childlike faith in marriage seems to have not worked for me. But could this be mere paradox? If I dare to journey, I will always end up somewhere, hopefully having learned something, even if it is not where I planned or hoped to end up.

Suffice it to say that on this warm Spring morning I feel healthy and optimistic.

Love to you and your readers.


Joshua Tilghman September 1, 2013 at 7:59 am


What an awesome comment. I very much enjoyed reading your words this morning over a cup of coffee. I do appreciate your willingness to share all this. And I will certainly be thinking of you. Blessings.


Alvin Davis February 9, 2014 at 11:52 am

Good article.

Just adding an idea… I think forgiveness is part of grace/love and the opposite of karma!
2 universal laws that reflex our true nature by reaping what we sow.


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