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I think it's about forgiveness...

I have been thinking about forgiveness lately. I know some other bloggers have blogged about it (I forget which ones; I read too many), and I have commented on various posts. I also have discussed the topic with friends and family as of late. So it was fitting that forgiveness and reconciliation were the topics in yesterday's church reflections group I often attend.

For years I used to think you could not forgive someone unless that person said he was sorry and truly meant it. Many people can do the former but not really mean it. And then one can be sincere in his apology, but continue to do the same things over and over. As a result, I had trouble forgiving some people for their wrongdoings.

Over the years, and particularly in the past year, I have come to realize that sometimes we must forgive others for our well-being; it may not have anything to do with what they have said or (failed to say), but rather how we feel.

According to Psych Central, forgiveness is letting go of the need for revenge and releasing negative thoughts of bitterness and resentment. The Mayo Clinic has a similar view: When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge—or embrace forgiveness and move forward. 

Some hurts have cut me very deeply and have affected my life in rather large ways. Other hurts have left minor stings and burns, but bother(ed) me regardless. I can say that as of right now, I have forgiven most people whom I needed to forgive. In the cases of a major wrongdoing, I had to move on, not forgetting what that person did, but letting go of the anger and resentment. After all, I might end up hurt in the same way if I pretend that all is well/nothing happened.

In instances where the hurt was minorsomeone snubbed me, was rude to me, or said negative/untrue things about me—forgiving can be a little harder for me. I am guessing that some of these people never gave a second thought to the way they treated me, whereas I, a rather analytical person, would dissect comments made and overtures ignored. Eventually, I have gotten past most of those things by telling myself it is not worth my energy to harbor the negativity and hurt. Plus, people who tend to hurt you in those ways probably have pain of their own or feel badly about themselves, so it may not even have too much to do with me.

I know that forgiving does not come easily for many people. Certainly if a person did something absolutely reprehensible to me or my family, I probably would not feel this way. And if someone continually hurts me, I might have trouble forgiving (I definitely would not forget). But I hope I can continue down this path and remind myself that holding negative thoughts about people is only going to cause pain, probably for everyone involved. 

What does forgiveness mean to you? Does it come easily? Are there some things you could never forgive? And is there someone who needs to forgive you?

I will leave you with a few lines from a Don Henley song that has stuck with me over the years.

I've been tryin' to get down to the heart of the matter,
But my will gets weak,
And my thoughts seem to scatter,
But I think it's about forgiveness,
Even if, even if you don't love me anymore,

I think that last line is pretty significant when it comes to forgiveness. Sometimes we have to forgive someone we may not even have a relationship with anymore just so we can move on and have peace.


donuts4dinner said…
"After all, I might end up hurt in the same way if I pretend that all is well/nothing happened."

I like this. This makes me feel better. I have a friend who only minorly hurt me, but it affected me like your minor hurts have. She's wanting to be friends again and has told all of our mutual friends, and while I don't have any hard feelings toward her anymore, part of me is scared to be friends again because of the past injury. I've forgiven but not forgotten. And maybe that's okay.
bluzdude said…
I think you are exactly correct. That was essentially the whole story behind my “Whatsername” series from last year. (Girl from my distant past that kept breaking up w/ me, and then pulling me back) Holding onto resentment and hostility only hurts yourself. It’s not always a quick or easy process, but you have to let it go, or it will eat you up from the inside. Obviously, it’s easier to do when you receive a heartfelt apology, but it’s still possible, regardless.

You were also right when you said, “Plus, people who tend to hurt you in those ways probably have pain of their own or feel badly about themselves, so it may not even have too much to do with me.” That was definitely true in my case. Her actions had WAY more to do with her scrambled emotional state, than anything I’d done or didn’t do.
Facie said…
Katie: If you don't have any hard feelings, it might not be a bad idea to give it a go again. But if you are in a good place and just want to stay there, it is understandable; letting someone in again is a definite risk. I have forgiven, but not forgotten, people who have never expressed remorse, and I feel vulnerable sometimes because of it.

Bluz: I like to be exactly correct! I had forgotten about that post. I am sure what happened to/with you happens far too often. But it can bring us comfort. :-)

Cassie said…
I agree with all of this.

And @Katie, I agree, too. It's a trust issue. How can you trust someone who has hurt you once before? I had this with my step dad, and I didn't speak to him for 10 years. After 10 years, though, I realized that while I have forgiven him, I needed to let it go.

Best decision I've ever made because having him back in my life is worth it all.
Facie said…
Cassie: I have had some things with my dad. Like you, having my dad in my life was more important. But I have not let everything go, more just have tucked it away. :-)

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