Trust me, it’s a choice that is not easy. It’s definitely a learned skill. One that I’m trying to learn and implement better. I’m not even necessarily somebody that holds grudges, but it’s still an active decision to say, “In all situations, whether it be immediate or eventual, is to forgive.”
Our world is not easily forgivable. We glamorize feeling bitter, dropping people from our lives who don’t benefit us, and debating others on opposing ideas and throwing things at each other over a theoretical fence. Or, I guess, a wall.
While I think it’s important to take care of yourself and stand up for what you believe in, but it’s much healthier to strive toward understanding and closure, to find value in accepting a person or situation whenever possible.
I decided to write about this topic because I recently I received a message from a friend who had cut ties with me a few months ago, an incident I had even written a post or two about. But in this message, I saw an olive branch. And despite my initial feelings toward the situation, that I saw nothing but a return to bitterness, I accepted an apology.
We often view forgiveness as something naive, that you’re allowing others to walk all over you and take advantage of kindness and generosity. If someone or something is harmful and caused you pain, isn’t it ridiculous to go back and say, “These things happened, choices were made, but I accept that and now choose to forgive.” Forgiveness doesn’t always have to be restarting a relationship or falling back into a habit that isn’t healthy. There is a difference between returning to the past and accepting the past.
We so badly seek revenge. An eye for an eye. We want others to feel the same pain that we have. We want some sort of recognition of others’ wrongdoing that often nothing comes. That’s when we start flinging hatred back and forth, a twisted game of monkey in the middle, an endless cycle of waiting for some sort of satisfaction that never comes when we all hold that same mentality. Nothing is ever solved. We are perpetually bitter to the point that we forget what we started fighting for.
An important aspect to forgiveness, as I mentioned earlier, is understanding. We don’t necessarily understand why things might turn out a certain way, what motives others might have, but we all make choices that in the moment seem right. We justify ourselves without explaining it to others, and when others are involved, they more or less can be left confused. Take a step inside someone else’s shoes, as cliche as it may sound. Know that we all have different perceptions of the world. We all go through different battles and obstacles. So many factors are involved in what might be happening in life that we cannot isolate one and place the blame on it.
Beyond that, we are all human, so while we continually make mistakes, we can choose to learn from those mistakes and grow. In 95% of situations, I believe in second chances. I also believe in karma in a sense that we receive the energy we give in some capacity. We can set the example of how we would like to be treated.
Another thing to mention is that while it’s hard enough to forgive external forces, it can be even more difficult to forgive ourselves. If you’re like me and hold yourself up to very high, at times unreachable, standards, when we slip up, it hurts. It can lead to looking back and overthinking everything and regretting how we acted. The fact is, we cannot go back in time, and the time we spend dwelling in the past is time wasted enjoying the present. Every day, we have to choice of who we want to be, the freedom to completely reinvent ourselves on a whim if we so choose. Act the way that you believe in. Give yourself the space to be human, and allow that for others, too.
Maybe you’re holding a grudge over how others may have treated you. Maybe you blame yourself or others for an unfortunate situation. I use vague terms here because the possibilities are endless. But whatever it may be for you, remaining bitter and angry is gripping onto something and refusing to let it go. Think of holding a fist and tension involved in continually working the same muscle to the point of exhaustion. It’s not worth that effort. Forgiveness might not look the same for everything, as it shouldn’t, but its effects are universal.
Things truly happen for a reason. There is a reason you broke up with somebody, or somebody betrayed you, etc. These times where we close our eyes to anything but the resulting darkness and hatred fail to acknowledge the opportunity they provide to teach us and strengthen us. That realization usually isn’t immediate, but with time healing the wound and leaving the scar behind, the true end to the healing process is not revenge, but forgiveness. It goes back to my belief that we are all innately good, that we all justify our actions to what we think is best in the moment, even if it knowingly ends up badly.
Forgiveness is not blind trust, nor is it becoming a pushover, nor is it putting up with people and situations that you have the power to change for the better. Forgiveness is observing those people and situations and realizing that behind it all is an opportunity, a challenge, to really see and understand what being human really is.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie