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.
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.
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.
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.