Is the biggest reason we struggle with forgiveness because we fear it indicates approval? Or we fear that if we forgive, that which was “done” to us will be “done” again? What is the essence of forgiveness and how do we wrap our minds around a concept that may indicate to ourselves that we have not only allowed our perception of a bad thing to happen to us, we are almost encouraging it to happen again?
I was married young and divorced young. The anger and pain which I held for years did not allow me to consider forgiveness. The ongoing financial trauma and lack of monetary support by my ex of our two sons kept the crappy feelings fed. I knew nothing of forgiveness at that young age, nor did I want to forgive. I was years away from forgiving my parents for my upbringing, along with many other perceived wrongs which I had experienced in my youthful life. I had no concept of the understanding of forgiveness.
For my experience of offering forgiveness, it has ebbed and flowed. I have offered it, I thought, only to have it pull back a bit. I believe I have finally reached the point where I have forgiven my ex, but I don’t have the need to tell him so. Perhaps that is only the tip of forgiving, and perhaps it is the essence. Forgiving really doesn’t mean allowing yourself to be a rug again. No need to lie down and get stepped all over. So forgiveness comes hand in hand with awareness. And good judgment.
A young man has stepped forward from over a decade ago who wants forgiveness. From me. He did nothing to me, or in this case, to my son. The choices he made for which he has been punished were poor choices and involved illegal actions. But he didn’t attempt to bring my family into these bad decisions. Still, he has asked for forgiveness from me. I hesitate. Is it because I fear acceptance of him and offering of this to him will somehow implicate me in approval? What if I find out later that I was mistaken to go there, and want my forgiveness back? I just don’t believe it works that way. I think forgiveness is a one way street, and you can’t turn around and head in the other direction.
There are many things for which I hope I am forgiven. If this was withheld from me from the important people in my life, I would be lost. The things which I have on occasion done to hurt people aren’t illegal, but I establish my punishment.
This is one I shall have to offer to my own higher being. I need direction and comfort. I want to offer comfort. But I want to be sure. However, I think it’s a lot like being in love – if you haven’t felt it, you can’t know what it is by explanation. For now, I’ll work on acceptance. For tomorrow, I’ll think about forgiveness.
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