I was thinking about forgiveness last night…
Forgiveness is a funny thing. We seem to believe that we must forgive others for what they may have done “to” us… That an apology is usually what comes before forgiveness.
Lately, I have been pondering that concept and, to begin with, I am not so sure that an apology is necessary for forgiveness. Apologies are often forced. I learned that when I became a mother. The first time I heard myself tell my son to “say he was sorry” it fell flat in the room. Tell someone you are sorry. Okay, so I said I was sorry, but did I mean it? Did it come from my heart? “Take some time to think on it,” that is what became of my “say you are sorry’s.” Between the two of us, parent and child; the forgiveness usually comes before the sorry. And it is only natural that it should be that way. The doors to forgiveness open when the “forgiver” forgives. In doing so, they open the door back up to the “forgivee.” Until then , there is not much room for the forgivee to find a place in the “forgiver’s” heart…
Which brings me to the real place I was going when I began this pondering. Meander my pondering does…
What is forgiveness? Really. What is it?
In the dictionary on my desktop, it reads:
The action or process of forgiving or being forgiven:
to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw or mistake.
So what is really the issue, and where I was going is that it is up to the forgiver to let go of the shitpile. It really doesn’t take the offender any action on their part in order for one to forgive.
In a conversation recently, someone said to me, Well in order to forgive, [Bob] needs an apology, he needs [Joe] to understand what he did to cause the upset.
But not really, I thought. It just takes a willingness on Bob’s part, to move beyond whatever holding pattern he had Joe in.
As I spoke those words, it occurred to me that I had some forgiving to do with someone close and it felt very different than the kind of forgiveness that you read in the dictionary. Suddenly, instead of “forgiving” this person for anything they had done wrong, I fore-gave them of my need for them to live up to any of my expectations or demands.
Yeah. It only made sense. Here I was holding someone away from me in my desire for them to be close. In my anger that they were not closer, I was keeping them farther and farther away as the resentment built.
So I let it go. I stopped needing them to change who they were and how they related in order for me to feel justified.
Now, the doors have opened, and the exchange is far more than it ever could have been in my wanting. In my blaming, in my inability to forgive, really forgive, I couldn’t have imagined the potential.
Now it is clear as day, let it go and watch it come back.
The flaws and mistakes and offenses of others are always opportunity to look at oneself. They are always reflection. And so in the end, it is really about forgiving oneself of the need to fulfill any obligations or expectations, and in that forgiveness comes the opportunity to allow all others their “flaws,” “offenses” and “mistakes.”