~This I want you to know~
Forgiveness and apologizing are very difficult for some. These people get stuck in the situation, the problem, their point of view. Many seem to think they are right and that it is more important to be “right” then to continue the relationship or repair the bond between the injured parties.
This has seldom been me. I am not good at keeping the anger going for extended periods of time. The process of staying actively angry, hurt, disappointed takes up too much negative energy and space in my head and heart. It suffocates me by drowning out my happiness and the joy of living. I wish I knew how people devoted all that time and energy to staying in the anger zone. I am referring to the kind of disputes that cause members of families not to talk for years. I have heard stories where brothers or parents and their grown children lived on the same block for many, many years and would not even make eye contact. Things had gotten that bad. Sometimes, unfortunately it is too late. Too much time has passed and there is no foundation left on which to rebuild the relationship. Or sadly one party is no longer alive.
This is not to say that forgiveness always comes easily. When I was thinking about this blog earlier today, I realized that it is easier for me to forgive if I have been personally wronged or hurt then if one of my family members has been hurt. My protective instinct goes into over drive regarding my family and closest friends. I am actively working on not taking on other people’s burdens even the people I love most in the world. It doesn’t help those around me to have their hurt feelings fueled by mine. Also, it doesn’t give them the necessary room and time to process what they are thinking and feeling. I am trying to be quieter and if called upon to just be a sounding board. My feelings might be affected but my feelings are truly secondary and need to remain in that spot.
But, when our feelings are directly affected sometimes we need to forgive the person that has not asked for forgiveness. Occasionally, this person is unaware they have hurt us. But, more often I believe this person does not or cannot deal with the ripple effect of what they have caused. There are times this person is so self centered or acting in a egocentric manner that even if they do know what they have done they will not change their decision. Or, they cannot seem to utter an apology. This is the hardest type of forgiveness to serve up.
It is very difficult because you are not actually accepting an apology at all. One has not been offered. Yet you forgive. This type of forgivness allows you to go on with your relationship with the person in question because it releases you of your negative or hostile feelings. Suppose you have a parent or friend that didn’t know how to be better, love more deeply or didn’t respond to your needs in the way you wanted. You can forgive them for their lack of ability or knowledge. You can choose to continue the relationship. This is a process in and of itself. Especially the first few times you forgive someone who is not asking for forgiveness. It has taken me time to get to the point that I can comprehend the other person limitations. It has taken me time to be able and ready to release the pain I have been carrying regarding these types of scenarios. I have done this at times in my life. I have said out loud to myself regarding certain people and situations “I forgive you. I forgive your inability to be there for me. I forgive your lack of insight and how difficult this situation has been for me.” Or, something like- “I forgive your harshness. I forgive your lack of empathy and callous manner to things that mean so much to me”. I have quite literally been able to breathe easier and have felt the weight of the hurt released from my shoulders, neck and stomach after forgiving.
Forgiveness does not mean that things go back to exactly the same way they were before you got hurt. You have learned about this person and acknowledged their limitations. But, you accept them anyway. You may lower your expectations for this person or you maybe more guarded with your head and your heart. Sometimes, the way this person acted during one particular interval in life is not representative of them. Then things maybe fully resorted.
Most of all, offering forgiveness releases me of the burden of suffering and drinking the poison of anger or resentment day in and day out. Forgiveness permits me to move on with an open mind and lighter heart.