by Melanie in IA
Who needs it, really? What does it mean to forgive someone, and why is forgiveness important?
I grew up un-churched, a heathen, so my faith-structure is weak. But I still have a belief in a higher power, a god-creator, if nothing else. I do believe in love and forgiveness and connection. I believe we are connected. I believe love is ours for the accepting, that we are all worthy of love.
Forgiveness is a more difficult concept, but my god would not require a physical human sacrifice to allow us all forgiveness. I believe the sacrifice, instead, is in humbling ourselves, in reviewing our wrongs, in asking for forbearance for our humanness, our imperfections. We need to forgive ourselves for this, and we need to forgive each other for this. I don’t know if we need to ask God for forgiveness, but where we have hurt each other, part of humbling ourselves is asking the other for that special grace, that blessing. We need to learn to see each other’s perfection, and have compassion for each other’s faults.
So what happens when we ask for forgiveness and it is not granted, when we apologize sincerely and it is not accepted?
Does that mean the other person only sees the flaws in us and not the goodness? And how should we see ourselves when that happens? As something less? Less worthy? No. For me, my need to be forgiven is largely ego-driven. Once I take the ego out of it, I can accept the situation either way.
Or should it change how we see the person we have injured? Should I be angry with them? Are they trying to make me mad, make me withdraw? At what point, for self-protection, should my attitude change from one of humbling myself to one of saying, “Fine, you won’t forgive me. I am a good person, despite your opinion. If you won’t forgive me, perhaps you are the one who is flawed.” How generous is it to give in to anger that way?
Again, for me, it’s irrelevant.
Something I know: life is short. People are human and make mistakes. I believe forgiving is important, part and parcel of loving them, accepting them as they are. I believe apologizing sincerely and with no expectations of mercy is important, too. That is the humbling part.
Yes, life is short. When things go wrong in your relationships, do you want to leave things the way they are? Do you want to reconcile and try to make the relationship better than it was?
Or do you really want, or really need, to cut off the relationship completely? Is it toxic? Is it healthier on the whole if it ends, if forgiveness is not granted? How do you come to that decision?
What examples do you have of forgiving or being forgiven? On a personal level only, what insults or wrongs are not forgivable? Does it matter if it is a one-time incident or a recurring problem? Have you ever granted forgiveness and wished you had not?
Tell me what you believe about forgiving. Tell me your stories of being human and asking for forgiveness.