The Struggles of Forgiveness

Morning to you.

I’m struggling with a topic that I thought I would write about today.

Forgiveness. Something we as people all approach differently. It’s a subject that’s split, and at the end of the day, you have to make a decision and pick one way to go about things, or another. Either you forgive, or you don’t.

Pearl Harbor - 1941

Pearl Harbor – 1941, a difficult event to simply “forgive”. All the same, look at the damage the US did in response. (Photo credit: Marco Crupi Visual Artist)

The struggle with forgiveness, is that there always seems to be pressure involved. You’ve got social pressure from society to forgive, or sometimes to not forgive and instead fight back (I think of the U.S.’s response to 9/11, or the U.S.’s response to Pearl Harbor, both huge controversies, and examples that further add to my point).

You’ve got family/friend pressure, where you are stressed to forgive family members or friends in various instances: your parents are your elders, don’t let this get in the way of your great friendship, etc. I can’t even tell you how many people have told me to forgive my brother because “I’ve only got one.”

The argument is often, “you’re closing a door you may later want to open,” or “by not forgiving, you risk damaging a relationship.” While both of these arguments are valid, and make a good point, they discount one key element, one major detail that makes all the difference:

How you feel.

You can quite easily forgive without meaning the actual “forgiveness”, thus not forgiving at all. Do that enough, constantly forgive when you don’t want to, and let’s face it, you’ll just be eating crap all the time. That’s how it goes.

English: Medical adhesive bandage

A bandage on a broken leg won’t fix a thing. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pressures to forgive are often placed with the intent of making everything “better” and “fixing” the problem. Sometimes, no one considers how you feel, and just letting things slide can often just damage the relationship more. I was once in the kind of relationship with a friend where I constantly felt as though I had to forgive to be a good friend. One day I realized I was quite unhappy and I asked myself why. I discovered that it was because I was constantly eating my feelings, my wants, for this friend of mine.

I can’t tell you how much better I felt once I told him how I actually felt and stopped spending time with him. There are more valuable people for me to be spending time with. The moral of the story: forgiving doesn’t always fix the problem.

That isn’t to say that learning to forgive is not a powerful virtue and worthwhile skill to have, because it is. It shows real character to forgive another’s mistake. After all, we all make mistakes, and forgiveness is a huge step towards greater acceptance. As long as it’s genuine.

door

Sometimes, a closed door can never again be opened. (Photo credit: Paul Keller)

And the arguments stated above (“closing a door you may later want to open”) does make a good point. If you live with grudges and hold old resentments against others, particularly for petty things, you’re not letting go of often way-passed issues.

It’s all about the balance of your own feelings, and your willingness to accept and let things go. We all have a different balance. And I believe each and every one of us has to find ours.

Of course, learning how to forgive all with pure intentions would be the ultimate goal, but that’s something very few are capable of doing. It’s way easier said than done. Until then, don’t force the forgiveness, because you may not even be forgiving, and instead just eating yourself inside.

Only you will know when it’s time to forgive.

–mrprose

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27 thoughts on “The Struggles of Forgiveness

  1. I don’t think that holding in our feelings is healthy. I think people should as tactful as possible, say what is one their mind if it is something that needs to be said. After that, then I think forgiveness is the healthy thing to do. It seems to me that it is a little easier to forgive if we have cleared our head and said what is causing the distress in that relationship. Then hopefully we can move on then and put it behind us. 😉

    • Absolutely, and that was what I was trying to convey in my piece. Sometimes people want you to forgive without caring about how you feel, and I say you need to say how you feel and then decide whether to forgive or not… thanks for reading!

  2. Holding petty grudges just leads to being stuck, much better to forgive but how to forgive what seems unforgivable? You bring up 9/11 or what about a person who raped you or killed your child or some other despicable act? Can one truly forgive? Perhaps. Or is some anger the only cure out of something so life-altering? Is healthy anger even a concept worth pondering? Maybe for another one of your insightful posts.

    • I’ll definitely keep those thoughts in my mind. And what you say, I spoke of in my piece. Forgiveness is such a delicate thing, and I’m just trying to open people’s minds.

  3. Forgiveness does not mean that you approve of what someone did… If you have to release it than do it in a a non-demeaning way without scaring someone. What I have found is that forgiving sets me free because I have learned to really look at the things people have done to me and see that it was all they knew at the time… I believe we all have a heart and carry love but it gets masked over by our ego and fear which causes us to do or say things that are not who we are at our core.
    People are wounded that is why they end up passing on what was dished to them…So when you can really look deep and see that the action is not really the wounded person you can let go, which frees yourself from carrying their action or repeating it. It does not mean you forget or that you have to remain in a relationship with that person, it just means you are done letting the action control how you feel.
    Great post!

  4. I like your thoughts on this very delicate subject. I agree it doesn’t help if you feel pressure from anyone. We have to come to forgiveness in our own time when we are ready. Only then are we able to move on in a more emotionally healthy way.

    • Thank you for reading, and I’m glad you agree… you put it nicely, “very delicate subject”, as that is exactly what it is. I might have to do a follow-up sometime.

  5. This is really awesome stuff! It’s very hard to find others who think of such topics with that much emotion and thought. This is exactly the kind of stuff that I like to read about and it is time well spent. I saw your about and would never think a 14 year old to really question and ponder those ideals that seem to plague each and every one of us. Props to you! I will definitely be back for more.

  6. Forgiveness has been one of the most difficult things that I have struggled with. When trust is lost, it is SO difficult to rebuild it again. And in order for trust to be rebuilt, forgiveness has to come first. This post of yours is very insightful. It’s a pleasure of mine to have stumbled over your blog. =)

  7. May the bridges I burn light the way! Haha, just kidding. I agree that you have pointed out some good insights in this. I would also offer that how you feel may change as time passes. In time, something that was so hard to forgive may become unimportant to you, and thus more easily forgiven. To forgive is not to “forget”. But, it does free you to no longer be a slave to feelings of hurt, betrayal, anger, etc. After all, the only person we can ever control in this life is our self and our reactions to others. I know you’re not one for “religion”, but the Dalai Lama has a good way to ‘start’ to develop forgiveness. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-MiAzdbxuQ
    Another good quote comes to mind, “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned” ~ Buddha
    In any case, it is good that you are exploring this. Only through understanding your own motives and feelings (and reasons to forgive or not) will you find the answer that best suits you. Perhaps you cannot forgive today, or even a hundred days from now, but someday, you may be able to. But you’re right – it has to be sincere; you have to mean it, or it does no good. Just my 2 cents. 😉

    • Thank you, and like I said, this is a subject we all approach differently. I’d like to add that this is one of my more “rough” pieces on a subject I’ll definitely have to get back to. Thank you for reading though!

  8. You think and write very eloquently on a subject that is often hard to express. Keep the thoughts and words coming…! I agree with many here, that forgiveness is a good thing but only if heartfelt, and that denying your feelings is doubling the pain. I think that forgiveness can also build strength, precisely because it is not easy and requires work.

  9. The part about the friend struck a chord with me; I feel like I’m always saying sorry to my friend without really knowing why, or even after they started the whole thing. It doesn’t leave you feeling peaceful, which forgiveness is supposed to do. Maybe I’ll have to follow in your footsteps and cut them off.
    I really enjoyed the way this was written.

    Also, just wanted to say (because you’re all dying for my opinion, I know) that there have been people in my life who wronged me and instead of forgiving them, I just refused to acknowledge them / it for so long that eventually I realised I did not care at all any more, and the forgiveness came naturally. Forced forgiveness can be terrible – everybody is so impatient for things to happen immediately that they forget that humans often need time.

    • This is quite a powerful comment… I see you’ve dealt with a lot of struggle with similar issues to forgiveness in your life.
      I’m not necessarily telling anyone to cut off any friends like your’s, but I would say that my friendship was quite unhealthy, and after long enough, I began to feel depressed. Maybe try talking to them? But you know, some people are just not meant to be your friends. I think you’ll know what to do and when to do it.

      As for the forgiveness… did you forgive these people that wronged you, or did you let them go, and moved on? It seems like that happened more than traditional forgiveness. Just a thought that came to mind, I might be wrong.

      Thanks for reading, and also for commenting. 🙂

  10. Great piece you wrote there. Unfortunately, forgiveness is not a science, it is an art, and not an easy one at that. As you portrayed it is really experience that helps you judge future situations and whether it is best to forgive and forget, or to let them know how you feel and move on.

  11. Great thoughts! Something I’ve learned about forgiveness is that it’s not really about the circumstances at all; it’s about self preservation. Unforgiveness is the fertilizer in which resentment flourishes. Resentment (and the like) do, literally, eat the body; as science and psychology have proved. Forgiveness isn’t a “free pass” you give others; it’s healing you give yourself.

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  13. I think it depends on the hurt caused. I’ve said this to someone, a friend of mine when we’re discussing forgiveness as part of spirituality. I said, I can’t forgive when it hurt too much.

  14. i totally agree with you. Its hard when we don’t let out how we truly feel. Sometimes, we want to forgive but there are things that are hindering us from doing so. Sometimes, we’re just afraid..those kind of things.. i’ve also experienced that kind of thing wherein i have this best friend and since we were so close i got kind of envious and angry because she no longer gives me her time and instead focuses on the boy she likes..i was like that but because i didn’t forgive her at first and started ignoring her before..i noticed how our relationship as best friends started to break. It was sad but at least these days we’re back to being good friends again 🙂

    Forgiveness is something that is always up to us, we either take the courage to do it or let ourselves regret something forever. 🙂

    thanks for this awesome post of yours!

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