On Forgiveness

Looking for a Definition

I think as children, we are given the notion that by forgiving someone, you are somehow saying that their actions are okay, or you are dismissing them, and you can be friends again. Ever watch children at play when someone gets hurt? How do they resolve it? The aggressor apologizes (either on his/her own or with prompting from an adult), there's a bit of a time lag, and soon enough the kids are playing once again as if nothing happened.

What is your definition of forgiveness? As we get older, our relationships and experiences get more complicated, along with the emotions that go with them. "Anger" can turn out to be a melting pot of frustration, helplessness, sadness, and hurt. Of course, it could just be anger, but that shows the complexities that come once you learn to sort through and dissect your feelings. I see a lot of people (including myself) struggle with forgiveness because of how we are taught about it growing up.

I have worked very hard to create a working definition of forgiveness for myself--one that makes sense and can allow me to let things go and move forward. Already I have had people show concern that by delving into this, I am living in the past. I disagree. I look at this as a way of moving forward.

Here's an analogy: Imagine yourself as a trunk or chest. Inside are all these memories, some good, some bad. Imagine those memories are something like clothes or photos or cards. I'm going through this chest and purging. I'm picking out things that have been inside that chest for years, maybe down at the very bottom. I'm trying them on, realizing they don't fit or I don't like them anymore, and throwing them out.

Here is my definition of forgiveness...in forgiving someone else, or myself, I am looking at what happened to create the negative emotions. I feel those emotions. I accept the situation. I make amends with myself or the other party. I let it go, and move on. Even just thinking about this gives me a sense of peace.

Now, having said that...there are some difficulties. Sometimes, we have been so hurt by others that even if we want to move forward we don't want to "forgive" them, per se. Why? In my case, there are a few reasons. The first is the age old concept of what forgiveness is. I am amazed at how deeply ingrained this concept is. Something that person did was so wrong, that I could not fathom forgiving them...they do not deserve it. The second reason is something along the lines of feeling like, if this person knew I had "forgiven" them, they might think that what they did was okay. So, in instances like that, my definition or process would change. Instead of the term "forgiveness" being used, I would use something more along the lines of "I am letting this go". It still means that I am moving forward, but it does not send the message that the actions of that person were okay.

Some people may wonder why I am putting all of this out there for people to read. That is simple. I hope that in seeing what I am going through, and seeing my process, others will be inspired to forgive themselves and others in their life, or at least go through some process of letting things go and moving forward. Forgiveness is not an easy process by any stretch...in fact, it can be one of the hardest processes to go through, and I want people to see that, and know that it is okay to struggle with it, too.

Now, time to get to work.



  1. We all are different, but for me forgiveness merged into forgetness, if I may use such a term
    This takes about three years and the becomes but a mediocre memory..


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