Forgiveness

Do you find that one of the most difficult struggles in life is learning to forgive?

Proman is speaking at a local church this morning on the topic of forgiveness. You can see why this is on my mind.

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness,” writes Norman Cousins, and since nobody gets through life unscathed, that’s certainly true. What can be more adventurous than learning to let go of pain, anger and pride so we can attempt to heal a relationship — and ourselves?

Proman likes to tell  a story about a man who is struck by an arrow from an unknown assailant. Rather than tending to the wound, he refuses to remove the arrow until the archer is found and punished. In the meantime, the wound festers until finally the poison kills him.

Have you suffered a spiritual or emotional wound and refused to forgive someone who hurt you? Worse, has the wound seeped poison for a lifetime?

Both religious leaders and psychologists tell us that forgiveness releases the suffering, the sorrows, the burdens of pain and betrayals and moves us towards love. On the occasions when I’ve forgiven freely–usually after someone has apologized, another subject to consider–I feel better about the world and myself, worthy goals for certain.

Does this mean I forgive easily and well. No, it’s a constant struggle, but the ability to forgive “just because” is one of those virtues I’m working toward.  At the risk of being trite, two popular sayings help me the most.

  • Don’t sweat the small stuff–it’s all small stuff.
  • Don’t take it personally.

I’m guilty of forgetting both. But I’m trying to remember.

So is there someone you need to forgive? How can we all take a step towards healing?

 

13 Comments

  1. Terry Guerra on May 1, 2016 at 7:53 am

    My answer to the question – yes. But I’m trying. I realized about a year ago I needed to do something to mend a broken relationship with a good friend. Forgiving both of us for what led to five years of no communication. Although we live in different states, we’re back in touch and slowly heading back to what I hope will be an even better friendship. I look forward to the day when we can meet in person and just sit and talk like we used to do.

    • Emilie Richards on May 1, 2016 at 9:20 am

      This is wonderful, Terry, a perfect example of what forgiveness can sometimes lead to. But even if it hadn’t led to reconciliation, I suspect that knowing you’d done what you could might have helped you, too.

  2. Pam Reed on May 1, 2016 at 9:49 am

    I have found I can forgive – it’s the forgetting that is hard. My sister recently died and her son, being a teacher, couldn’t always be there…so I checked her in the hospital, stayed with her because she couldn’t communicate, checked her into a nursing home (for 4 days but signed all the paperwork for financial responsibility, etc); then checked her out again and back to hospice. When she passed, I asked for my father’s wedding ring because I was the last daughter – and my nephew told me since it was in her possession he felt it should be his. It broke my heart. He said I was bullying him into giving it to him, so he would give it to me. By that time I told him to keep it – it was only a ‘thing’. I have forgiven, but will never feel the same toward him again. I hope that is considered at least a form of forgiveness?

    • Emilie Richards on May 1, 2016 at 10:13 am

      Forgiveness is such a weighty subject, and forgiving someone doesn’t mean you aren’t still hurt or even more important, that you should allow that person to continue hurting you. This link at Psychology Today has some great points. I found it very helpful, Pam, and hope you do, too. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/mindful-anger/201409/how-do-you-forgive-even-when-it-feels-impossible I’m not sure which of the things they list are the most important. Each one resonates with me, but the final one? “… and forgiveness isn’t something you do for the other person.” We don’t think of forgiveness as a selfish act, but it’s not entirely selfless, is it? Because forgiveness brings us peace. We can’t guarantee it will help the person we’ve forgiven, but it can have profound effects on our own life.

      • Pam Reed on May 1, 2016 at 11:05 am

        thank you – it put an entirely new perspective on my feelings!

        • Emilie Richards on May 1, 2016 at 11:15 am

          I think we need part two of forgiveness next week. I thought that article was great, so will try to share more. I’m glad it helped.

          • Pam Reed on May 1, 2016 at 6:19 pm

            I’ll look forward to it (especially since I’m hoping I only opted out of receiving everyone’s response and not yours!)



  3. Marsha Markham on May 1, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    I think there is a fine line between forgiveness and letting go. About a year and a half ago I had a problem with a friend and her daughter (with a lot of drama) blow something so out of proportion. I needed to put this relationship in the past and distance myself.

    • Emilie Richards on May 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm

      I think the therapist who wrote the Psych Today article I mentioned in another comment would completely agree with your response.

  4. Nancy Lepri on May 1, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Forgiveness is hard…I know. There are a few people who have not only hurt me, but have hurt some of my family members; two of whom passed away brokenhearted. I held anger and resentment for a long time, but soon I realized I was only giving power to those who performed the horrendous deeds they did and I needed to let my feelings go. I have decided to put it all in the Lord’s hands, which I have done and I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders. I won’t forget, but I have forgiven and now I only feel pity for those who have hurt me and my family. I realize these folks are not happy and they get pleasure out of causing chaos. What else can I do but pray for them, for they need to see the light.

    • Emilie Richards on May 1, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      It sounds like your own burden has been very much lightened by this decision. I’m so sorry, though, that you had this to deal with. Seeing others hurt is so difficult.

  5. Joni on May 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I had to sleep on this before commenting- I have a very difficult mother ( to say the least). I do what I know is the right thing to do but I have to keep my guard up to protect myself- I’m going forward but I will never forgive either of my parents!

    • Emilie Richards on May 2, 2016 at 11:05 am

      Joni, only you can know how to proceed in what’s clearly a tough situation. I wrestle with forgiveness, too. Just don’t forget that forgiving is not the same as forgetting or making yourself vulnerable. Such subtle distinctions, right? But necessary. I wish you the very best with this.

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