When you forgive someone, you slice away the wrong from the person who did it. You disengage that person from his hurtful act. You recreate him. At one moment you identify him inerradicably as the person who did you wrong. The next moment you change that identity. He is remade in your memory.
You think of him now not as the person who hurt you, but as a person who needs you. You feel him now not as the person who alienated you, but as the person who belongs to you. Once you branded him as a person powerful in evil, but now you see him as a person weak in his needs. You recreated your past by recreating the person whose wrong made your past painful.
You do not change him, out there, in his being. What he did sticks to what he is. His wrong is glued to him. But when you recreate him in your own memory, there, within you, he has been altered by spiritual surgery.
God does it this way, too. He releases us from sin as a mother washes dirt from a child's face, or as a person takes a burden off your back, lays it on a goat, and sends the goat scampering into the wilderness. The Bible's metaphors point to a surgery within God's memory of what we are.
Excerpted from Forgiveness, a new downloadable resource from Gifted for Leadership.