I’m not sure why I and so many other people struggle with forgiveness. I think it is in part because the concept is misconstrued, misplaced, and oversimplified. The most common misconstruction or misinterpretation of forgiveness is that it is something the wronged gives to or does for the wrong doer. That gets to the crux of the matter for me, someone who has a very strong sense of justice. I would not ask anyone who has been wronged, or ask of myself when I have been wronged, to do something for the other person. It’s like asking someone who is being terrorized or bullied to just turn the other cheek, absolute BS. The root word for forgiveness, from the Proto-Germanic, means a release. Now that’s something different.
When we have been hurt, wronged, the anger and other emotions that come from feeling pain have a value and a purpose, to a point. They lose their value and purpose when they remain so long to keep the pain or hurt from healing. It makes sense then to release them, to give ourselves the opportunity to heal. The only phrase that ever made sense in terms of forgiveness for me is that it’s not for the person or people who did the wrong, it’s for the person or people who were wronged. So why forgive, who, when?
It’s all a very personal journey, like every strong emotion. People might say there are steps and stages in such processes, that just makes us more comfortable with an uncomfortable and messy emotion. Like grief there are parts of the process of forgiveness that move forwards, backwards, sideways, and around. Also, like grief it goes at its own pace, in its own way, for each person and set of circumstances. The why of forgiveness, a complex process can’t start without the first move, so the person who makes that first move pilots that journey. The who is essential, the release being for the person who is ready to let go of the pain and start that process, remembering that we only ever control our own emotions and actions anyway. The when being decided then, since it’s on the personal clock of the one doing the forgiving, nothing, and nobody else.
I was told often, it’s time, let it go. That only made me more determined to hold on to my pain, to the injustice of the wrong. Wrong answer I would say. The times I have had the hardest experience with forgiveness, and finally found it, the release wasn’t a flash or rush of relief. It was a gradual awareness, of an immense burden lifted. A burden which I had taken, which I could choose to let go, to release, for me, when I wanted to. And when I did finally, it felt really good. It’s complicated, it’s not what we think it is, and it’s not for who we may think it’s for. Forgiveness is a sweet release, to give yourself, how and when you decide to.
2 thoughts on “Forgiveness- Why?Who?When?”
This is so profound and well said! Thank you!
It’s always perplexed me, why so hard to forgive. Then when I realized it may not be or mean what most people think it is things made sense, it was easier to want the release for the right reasons and people.