“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34
The virtue of forgiveness is very often discussed with emphasis on what it does for us, the forgivers, rather than what it does for those whom we choose to forgive. The quote (ubiquitously misattributed to the Buddha) “holding on to resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”, gets it right. Forgiveness, in human terms, is not about the other person, it is entirely about you and retaining your own power and light.
Embracing forgiveness releases us from the trap of immersion in anger and resentment. When we are bound to such negative emotions, we become energetically stuck, unable to move forward in our own direction, apart or away from the individual or event that incited our anger. Even when that individual is our own self, forgiveness releases us from the pain of having been harmed, however egregiously. Resentment eats at us from within, often motivates us to do or say things we would otherwise find abhorrent, and generally serves no positive purpose in our lives. Forgiveness allows us to achieve freedom.
As it relates to Jesus’ words on the cross: know that it is wholly unnecessary for the transgressor to have been ignorant of their wrongdoing, or innocent of their intentions for personal forgiveness to be possible. Whether or not someone’s “sin” is forgivable by god is between them and god. Whether or not their words, deeds, and actions are forgivable by you is entirely within your hands. Even when someone knows they’ve caused insult or injury, “repentance” and apology might make it easier for us to forgive, but it is by no means a requirement. And, unlike divine grace, we do not bestow forgiveness as a gift to the forgiven, but as a gift to ourselves.