Forgiveness is a tricky thing; concept and word. We all understand that on the surface it suggests that we will “let go” of something that has harmed us. However in deeper terms you often hear of stories of forgiveness that breach concept; like when a mother forgives the person that murdered her child. I have often thought, “How is that possible?” But as I continue to experience life and the much smaller grievances where I have been challenged to employ forgiveness I am learning the many facets.
Forgiveness in the simplest of examples in my life has been easier than forgiving unmentionable harm like murder. Simple, every day harm is when your loved one is playing around and hurts your feelings. You are hurt in the moment but they ask for forgiveness and all is forgotten…or is it. In the more complicated of examples I have experienced harm that cuts deep; words seem to be the weapon of choice, and those words are not so easily forgotten as it goes deeper than “hurt feelings”. In both cases I have attempted to forgive but find myself “still wounded” and out of sorts for the forgiveness that I am supposed to have given.
Even when I think of the more simple examples of harm, we say we forgive but we are quick to bring back up that “one time” when an example surfaces that recalls that harm. But if we truly forgave why does the evidence still exist? In the more complicated instances of harm, we forgive for the sake of moving on, never really forgetting what that party is capable of, the harm already done and on the lookout for it to return. Again in this case is it fair to suggest that we have forgiven…if we are still holding on and worse preparing for the next injury?
I think in my life I am finally learning what forgiveness is and is not. In my life forgiveness is moving on but not fooling myself that I am moving past it. I will forgive for the sake of the relationship, the family or unfortunately whatever greater good I have put before my own but certainly do not forget. The problem is that this lives within me, in my soul, tormenting my inner consciousness because it is not resolved. I am learning that the sentiment of forgiveness is not one I easily exercise and as I am learning of the failures of forgiveness I am having to exercise new protocol.
Today forgiveness is instead, me accepting that the harm that was done is real, because of my perception, and will continue to occur if I allow it. Forgiveness under these terms means that I let it/them go and not the harm or words and then truly move on with my life. I don’t allow myself to feel bad for removing someone from my circle as my form of forgiveness suggests that this person is this way and cannot/will not change and hence it is in MY best interest that I remove them from my reach. This concept is allowing me to shut the door on further harm versus what I previously would do which was to shut out my feelings for the sake of not making them feel “bad”. On this I now call BS!
I have always said that there was only one thing I learned from Dr. Phil and that was “you teach people how to treat you”, I live by these words every single day of my life. The difference is that I have never held anyone accountable to this until now. If I do the work and make sure that you know how to treat me, on my terms, and you work against that model then I may “forgive and forget” once but no longer will I continue to allow myself to be a victim of “how you are”. This is not misuse of grammar this is the absolute. I have too often in my life dealt with people who are abusive to others and hear it said “well that is just how he/she is”…to this I also call BS. They can certainly be any way in which they chose to be, but not to ME. I will simply not allow it.
I had this epiphany on forgiveness during my run today and it felt so freeing to realize that yes, I can forgive, like so many do, but I can and will forgive on my terms. Your terms of forgiveness are yours and I have to learn to be held accountable to yours as well as you will mine. My terms of forgiveness suggest that I will be honest and transparent in my relationships and may forgive once but I will not be re-injured time and time again.
Forgive and forget…well yes I think I will…I will forget that I have to tiptoe around you, abide by your rules and take your abuse. I will forgive that this is simply “who you are”; someone I used to know.
Moving on, to higher roads. L.