We learn very quickly in life that people hurt one another. Not only is this an abstract concept, far from it — you and I have a propensity towards it too.
Unless emotionless, stubborn or unaware of oneself, the reaction of hurting another can be incredibly painful; as though in one moment our outburst or bitter tongue was justifiable, but when realising that those words or actions hurt the other, we are suddenly afflicted with guilt.
I shouldn’t have said that, I’m so sorry I acted that way… Please… forgive me…
Perhaps forgiveness shouldn’t come immediately, perhaps it is important for the guilty party to dwell in their sorriness, to understand where they may have gone wrong. I suppose this certainly depends on the scenario or degree of hurt caused. There is a spectrum of hurt and, therefore, a spectrum of absolution. Knocking into me on the bus will take me a fraction of a second to forgive (depending on how intentional it was and what mood I’m in!), the forgiveness that some parents have publicly declared for the murderer of their child is unimaginably harder to take in, and without a doubt, far harder for the injured party to come to a conclusion.
Why do we forgive or why do we feel we need to?
I would suggest that leaning towards forgiveness, rather than blame, certainly helps the world become a better place. The peace that it enables, if genuine, transforms conflict-torn nations and conflict-torn homes. But, it is the openness to sincerity and self-reflection that possibly stands in the way.
How does forgiveness feel?
Recently this question was posed to me: ‘how does forgiveness make you feel?’ The short answer is ‘good’ — I love being forgiven.
I also love that we all have the potential to be completely benevolent and move forward to a new way of being by articulating our sorrow and our apologies. Forgiveness feels more legitimate when the guilty have truly learnt from their behaviour, and this is where relationships tend to rupture, which is sadly all too common. By not making a change, you were probably never really sorry in the first place — your apology was a facade to alleviate emotional pressure. I am certainly culpable of this trick.
Forgiveness really does help the world spin around and is a healthy pathway for many of us. For many of our situations a deeper level of connection, thought and action needs to take place — it is right not just to feign forgiveness, as it can never be truly feigned.
Perhaps there is something today that you need to unlock from deep within, work out where hurts were caused and move towards a road to freedom.
To find light and take weight from your shoulders.