Sunday, May 2, 2010


Forgiveness is a simple word with a lot of different meanings. For starters, it's not a light-weighted subject matter. It's one simple word, one simple concept that contains a lot of power behind it. Some individuals that I've crossed paths with simply toss it around as if its meaning were as simplistic and common as saying "hello." I admit, I used to do this too; mostly when I was younger and my undeveloped mind was more focused on emulation rather than independent thought. Yet, somewhere inside, even when my mind was still trying to formulate itself, I felt a sharp disconnect between what I was outwardly portraying and what I was really feeling.

I was told that I should forgive others because it was the right thing to do and Jesus forgave me for my "sins," so I should forgive everyone else for theirs. The problem is that the process isn't that easy; especially if you feel things more intensely than most or personalize and internalize someone else's actions that just happened to be directed towards you. When that's the case, you can carry around resentment, anger, fear and grudges for a long time afterwards and not even realize it. Until something triggers a reminder. Or you suddenly feel the weight of your heart sinking and you wonder why since you really have no reason to be this sad or frustrated with life.

Sometimes we don't really take the time to explore why we feel violated and what we need to feel at peace again because it's easier to dismiss what happened and maintain an outward expression of "everything's ok between you and me." Perhaps we think it's better to do the work later; that the mere words of "I forgive you, let's move on" will wave their magic wand and erase the fact that "everything is really not ok between you and me." We're creatures of pretend, of fantasy. A lot of good things exist in that realm, but when you allow it to discredit what you really feel, you cheat yourself out of the possibility of inner freedom, conviction, validation and esteem. The problems that existed before you publicly mouthed those words aren't going anywhere. They'll come back, despite the scripts and the carefully calculated lines. Ad-libs have a way of sneaking out when you least expect them to. Eventually you can't conceal what the heart needs to say.

I think in a lot of cases forgiveness is a long process, perhaps even lifelong. I know it has been like that for me with more than a few people. Sensitivity has a way of magnifying what we feel as betrayal and injustice. It also has a way of automatically making us feel inherently flawed, as though we were the only ones who might have done something wrong. Or even worse, that there must be something about who we are that was so completely inadequate that it caused the other to act the way they did.

The thing about true forgiveness is that it really isn't about the other person. It's about you. It may take a few seconds, six months, a few years or even a lifetime to release yourself. By release I mean truly separate your identity from the other, their actions, their words, their choices. Separating yourself requires a little bit more than tossing out the simple words "I forgive you." It's a decision that acknowledges how those actions, words and choices made you feel. A decision that realizes that's how I felt, but those internal feelings and external choices are not who I am. True forgiveness is the realization that there's something more valuable than trying to change what's already done. That "something" more valuable is the life within your soul.


  1. Well written and quite insightful considering your young age! It took me over 50 years to truly forgive my Father and to let go of past hurts. In my Recovery I have journalled alot which has been especially helpful in my healing. During a couple of in-patient treatments I wrote letters to both my Father and ex husband that were 26 and 52 pages. Unbelievable weight was lifted, and finally I was not only saying,"I forgive" but was released from years of painful emotioms.
    One of my favorite Recovery quotes is. "Forgiveness is giving up All hope of a better past.
    God Bless--Bonnie

  2. I forgive by realizing that there's nothing to forgive. People are the way they are and if they hurt me, they have some reason in their head for doing it. Only sociopaths do things for no reason. I may never know their reason and I don't agree with their actions, but I accept that it made sense to them at the time.

    This goes to my second belief that you can't change people and it's rude to try. So either I accept that having these people in my life might cause me hurt in the future and I'm okay with that because what I do get from them is worth it. Or I take action by not allowing these people to significantly impact my life in the future.

  3. Bonnie-thanks for sharing your story. I've done the journal/writing letters approach also. It is a release, for sure. That quote is beautiful. Kind of reminds me of the Serenity Prayer.

    Corin-I agree completely. Again, I'm reminded of the "Serenity Prayer." You can only change what you can and let go of what you cannot. You have to be able to recognize when you can and when you can't and accept what is or move on.