Forgiveness vs. acceptance

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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Posted in Embracing Life - Women ^50, spirituality.

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8 Responses

  1. spiritalk spiritalk says

    I don’t know if this would fit anyone’s description of forgiveness.  But I find it beneficial to learn to release the situation. 

    Visualization and color rituals work to accomplish the release of all things.  Then the mind is free to explore the spirituality of it all.

    The more we hold on to our own purceived hurts, the more we will suffer through life.  It is only ourselves we are affecting. 

    Why not release all things of the past and move forward?  After all, life is a river washing all things clean all the time.

    God bless, J

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  2. lovemylife lovemylife says

    Forgiveness is so hard!  What struck me with your posting is “Forgiveness is a one way street.”  I love how words so seemingly simple can slap me upside the head.  It so IS a one way street.  Looking back at my “wrongs” most folks have moved on and never give me another thought, I’m convinced now.  Yet I would dwell, waste time and energy harboring resentment.  They would consume my thoughts.  There was even a time I thought everyone sat aorund and thought about me and judged me.  A therapist one time said to me “What makes you think you’re so important that everyone sits around and thinks about you?”  Wow.  Stung, but wow!  Stopped me in my tracks.  Yes, they move on and we sit here and wallow. 

    So yes, forgiveness is definitely a one way street. 

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  3. Generic Image Mags says

    Oh I have felt it !  My struggle is between “forgiveness & forgetting”.  How do I forgive….and not forget.  How do I look at the person and not see the situation that needed forgiveness ?  I am talking about my sister.  We have been like one for years…& then a situation on which we disagreed seperated us for 2 years now.  She says that she can’t ‘trust’ again !!!

    OK, but what about going on. Living life, being part of a family, we have a Dad, & two brothers, SIL’s, nieces & nephews….who have become involved in this terrible life changing situation.  I have suffered thru this as has my husband & family.  What will change this !!!!! ?????

    I have not enough room to explain any further.  I am probably venting…but I am more than grateful for the time & space to do so.  Thank you !

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    • Generic Image LucyBHoffman says

      Mags, I am going to share what I try valiantly to do now in my life.  That is to not get caught up in other people’s drama.  I have a close friend who lives a state away.  She has three daughters, two of whom always have a dilemma in their lives.  Part of the problem now is the divorce which their mother (my friend) continues to go through (the legal field does some very strange things).  Now when she calls about them, I simply say, “they need to be in charge of their own lives”.  That is all I advise.  I refuse to get nuts with her.  I have seen the pain they cause to her when they are not in need of her rescue and it makes me quite sad.  

      I guess I’m doing my best to establish a drama-free zone.  I’ve been dramatic for most of my life, but since I have enough of it, I do my best to stay out of other people’s.  I know that sounds simplistic.  But I think until I was willing to recognize that I really have no control over anyone else’s behavior (which I learned after a son went off the deep end last year and has decided to stay there for the time being), I have adopted this approach.  Turn my focus to my life, and keep moving (or not).

      It is a terrible thing that has happened to you.  Focus on being you, being kind, and keep moving.  As Dory said in “Finding Nemo”- Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!

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  4. crystalli crystalli says

    The brain cells left to me haven’t the energy to hold grudges and remember to pay the bill and buy shampoo.  This also leaves them off the hook to decide whether or not to forgive.  But seriously, I hardly think about forgiveness.  It someone asks me to forgive them, it’s usually no big deal anyway.  No one asks forgiveness for the big issues, and so I’m happy to simply let it go after spending a little while gnashing my teeth.  I know that there’s a lot more to this issue, such as a family member wronging you, someone you can’t cut from your life, and who wants forgiveness.  In that case, I’d take spiritalk’s words to heart, forgive and move forward, but trying to stay out of situations that would leave you vulnerable for more of the same.

    In the case of this one young man, you might acknowledge that he did nothing to harm you or your family and that you see he has grown past such behavior, so forgiveness from you is not warranted, but he might atone further for his antisocial actions by involving himself in helping to build a better world as a way of life.  That would seem to be more life affirming than extracting words from you that you find pointless and make you uncomfortable.  BTW, I don’t feel that forgiving (whatever that means to each individual) implies acceptance of the wrong done and/or approval of such.  I think it means the person is asking that you not harbor negative feelings toward him anymore because he understands your hurt and is repentant.

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  5. ronibuni ronibuni says

    I beleive the young man in question is following a 10 step program that requires that he ask for forgiveness…I had a similar experience with a kid who I met in my house one time. He was calling us from prison–collect! I finally accepted his call–he was crying asked he to forgive him; seems he climbed in our window downstairs and slept in our guestroom several nights when he had no place else to go..so I forgave him..I would have let him stay had he asked..

    The husband thing is a LOT harder…to forgive is one thing, to accept another. Now FORGETTING…cannot manage that one and then there is figuring out TRUST..Yikes, but hey, that is just Me!


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  6. Generic Image Declan Tarpey says

    Thank you for adding your experience and awareness on the issue of Acceptance and Forgiveness. I have recently posted a 6 minute video on YouTube entitled Acceptance Vs Forgiveness based on my work on the Northern Ireland Peace Process and my work as a psychotherapist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBFKLX77P18

    Best Wishes, Declan Tarpey

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