Please Forgive Me!!!

I'm Sorry

We’ve all been there where we’ve done something wrong, and we seek forgiveness. I’m currently taking a class through my Church, and I learnt something tonight that has totally blown my mind, and I thought I’d share it with you. We’ve all been betrayed by people before, even by someone close to us, and it has forever changed the relationship. From a Christian perspective we’ve always been thought to “turn the other cheek” and to not seek “revenge”, but when someone has wronged you, how do you turn the other cheek. There’s a story in Matthew 18:21-35, it’s about a rich master who completely wipes out his servant’s rather large debt (maybe millions in our present time). After he was let go by the master, the servant then finds another servant who owes him a rather small debt (possibly hundreds or a few thousands in today’s currency), and has the second servant thrown in jail. This story is to symbolize that God has forgiven us for all our sins, therefore we should forgive others for their sins against us.

While there is still plenty of debate about how to forgive someone, and whether you’re to seek retribution, the Bible seems to give plenty of examples of what not to do. Here are a few things I’ve previously known that were reiterated tonight.

What is Forgiveness:

  • To completely wipe someone’s debt away.
  • Although you’ve forgiven someone once, you’ll have to actively remember not to seek vengeance. (I’ve always felt guilty that I want to see the person pay, and couldn’t understand why that feeling seems to come back at times, I used to think that meant I haven’t forgiven them)
  • We can ask for forgiveness an unlimited about of time, there’s no number that God will say “Ok this is your last one.” (Some people, even many Christians find this hard to believe. I think this is because as humans there’s a point when we get fed up, but that trait doesn’t apply to God)

What Forgiveness is not:

  • Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you’ll feel good about them again. Unlike God even though we’ve forgiven someone, our emotions are still tied to the memory of what they’ve done to us. (This is a bit of a drastic example, but in cases of abuse, how do you forget that you were abused)
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.
  • Forgiving doesn’t mean you’re ok with what they’ve done.
  • When I forgive, I don’t repay the hurt I feel to punish them. (This is where I had my ah ha moment)

As I pointed out in the last one, not repaying a wrong with a like wrong, that’s the one that really resonated with me. I’ve had a false belief about this one for a long time now. I understand that if someone lies or steals from you, you don’t lie or steal from them. I also understand that their are consequences to people’s actions. My false belief was tied to the consequences, e.g if someone stole from you and caused you financial hardship, your consequence for them shouldn’t in turn cause some type of financial hardship for them. That would be an example of an eye for an eye, which according to the earlier passage, that is not a correct response. The consequence of stealing is possibly going to jail, instead of an action that benefits me. I’m not sure if I’m explaining this well, but it really got me thinking, if I’m to truly forgive someone, I can’t repay their bad behavior with my own bad behavior. Or better put I can’t gain an advantage or take any kind of retaliation. In other words Forgiving someone from  a biblical perspective, takes an active choice on my part not to punish or seek punishment for someone who has wronged me.

What I learnt tonight has fundamentally changed how I look at forgiveness. This seems to take a great deal of mental strength not to repay a bad deed with another, I foresee that I will have to really actively work on changing this part of my view towards forgiveness. If there is anything I can say for sure it’s that many times when we learn lessons from life or the Universe, it’s because we’re going to have to practice that lesson soon. I am going to have to work really hard on this one, in one night I’ve completely shattered a view I’ve held for 30+ years.

forgive me

2 thoughts on “Please Forgive Me!!!

  1. For me, what allows me to forgive somebody includes at least a couple of things: compassion/empathy and self-responsibility.

    There could be any number of reasons why somebody would do something hurtful to someone else, but when it comes down to it, I believe that people cause pain because they themselves are in pain. We all seek to feel joyful, loved, and worthy, and it’s a struggle for most if not all of us. Unfortunately, the ways we seek those feelings are not always ones that are respectful towards others. Yes, it can be selfish. Yes, it can be hurtful. But deep down inside, those selfish and hurtful acts come out because that person doesn’t know how else to feel joyful, loved, and worthy. This is where compassion/empathy comes in. A part of you may want to hurt them for hurting you–you want to cause them pain because you yourself are in pain. But somewhere deep down inside, the other person caused you pain because they themselves are in pain. They are hurting and don’t know how to express it in a way that’s respectful, authentic, open, and vulnerable. To be able to see that even potential malice on their part is due to an internal suffering that they are sustaining can allow you to forgive them much more than if you weren’t able to see that.

    And then there’s self-responsibility. Part of the feeling of being hurt or angry at someone who has wronged you is having placed certain expectations of behavior onto that person. When it comes down to it, you are the only person who is responsible for your life. You’re responsible for your choices, your desires, your words, your opinions, your actions… Sometimes we depend on other people but we don’t realize at the time that our dependence is unwarranted. Sometimes we trust people who end up betraying us. But when it comes down to it, you are the one who chose to hold those people close to you in your life. Perhaps it was a mistake in judgment. Perhaps it was denial. Perhaps it was hope. Either way, whether it was a lack of knowing better or an emotional attachment or whatever, the consequence of your choice was the betrayal. Like everything in life, it is our own responsibility to learn from our mistakes and move forward to create and live the life we want to live, and that includes learning how to identify which people truly enrich our lives and which reduce the quality of our lives, and building the strength and courage to separate ourselves from those who reduce the quality of our lives to make room for people who bring out the best in us.

    One more thing to keep in mind about forgiveness is that forgiving others is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Once you can forgive someone else, you liberate yourself from those feelings of anger/hatred/pain, and you end up giving yourself the gift of inner peace. I agree that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you should trust them again or that you condone their actions. But it does mean that instead of spending the precious limited amount of time, energy, and attention that you have on things that bring you down, you get to spend it on things that bring you to a higher level of joy in life.

    • Very well written, you highlighted a few things that I didn’t say. Sometimes people don’t know how to express that they are hurting, so they rationalize their unhealthy responses, and say that it’s because they’re hurting. So someone has hurt me, do I now perpetuate that cycle and hurt them also! Repeating a hurtful behavior also takes a lot of energy, negative energy. Although it feels satisfying in the short term, now it’s forever on my conscience that I’ve intentionally hurt someone; that directly contradicts my ethical compass. I can honestly say that when I decided to forgive someone despite the wrong that they had done to me, I felt this immense release of peace from within, I wanted to go shout it from the mountain top. I think an element of forgiveness is also not boasting about what you’ve done, since forgiveness is about your personal happiness, boasting to others will require that they approve of your behavior. Since the approval of others isn’t self-love, you may find that you need to get more and more validation from others in order to feel as though you’ve actually forgiven others. You said it perfectly though, feeling liberated from anger/hatred is a great feeling. It’s also some of the core tenants of what I’m about, I seek peace and harmony with all around me, even those who don’t subscribe to my faith, morals, or even cultural beliefs. We can share different beliefs and still treat others with respect and dignity. Plus Love is in harmony with everything, even towards hatred and anger. I’m making the choice not to respond to hatred with more hatred. I believe all those things encompass the kind of life I want to live, be vulnerable, live with intention, and show love towards all, even those who’ve hurt me.

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