So I hastily posted this meme on my Facebook page this morning and immediately kind of regretted doing it without posting an explanation to go along with it. Alone – it sounds like I am being kind of harsh, but really forgiveness is a process, and forgetting when you have been hurt by someone is near impossible. Forgiving and forgetting I think is an irresponsible way to wander through our relationships with people. Here is why:
I understand the biblical view on forgiveness but as humans we aren’t God and therefore do not posses the ability to genuinely forgive ‘those who trespass against us’. We hold grudges. We retaliate. We [try to] forget. We ignore. We deny. We do about everything but truly forgive. I am not saying that forgiveness is impossible, what I am saying though is that it is hard. We aren’t Jesus, not even the best of us comes close to the pedestal we have Jesus on when it comes to forgiveness.
Then there is the forget part. We certainly don’t forget – even when we manage to forgive. Think of it this way: A hot oven is right there being all hot and stuff. We go lay our hand on it and get burned. We don’t blame the oven really – so we forgive it for burning us, however, next time we are near a hot oven we don’t lay our hand on it. Get it? We don’t forget… we learn not to put our hand on a hot oven. If we just forgot about it, well we would keep getting burned and that would suck. So we remember, and we change our actions to protect ourselves. Easier with an oven than with a person however…
If you read my post this morning about denial you may understand where this post is coming from. Basically, someone in my life hurt me (and in a way I hurt them too). They stopped talking to me for a while – in that while – their life took a turn for the worse and they wanted their friend back. So they called me this AM and acted as though we have been right as rain- like nothing happened. I was faced with a decision. Forgive and forget? Just be there for them? I love this person a lot (this isn’t a “love” relationship BTW) and I genuinely care about what happens to them. So what to do?
I think I did what was right for both of us. I called, and before I let them get into the most recent trials of life, I asked them to acknowledge what happened before. I said I was unwilling to come back (and burn myself again) until they understood why I was hurt and accepted responsibility for their part in it. I in turn owned my part in it and understood why they did what they did – even if I felt it wasn’t the right way to go about it. In doing that, I was able to let go of the grudge and really forgive them, they were able to forgive me too, and we were able to move on. Not forget mind you, but move on to hopefully better things for both of us. If we just forget it all, we will repeat it and our friendship would once again be in peril. This way, by acknowledging and moving on; we have our friendship, we learned how to handle it when we hurt each other in a healthy way, and we can be good for each other rather than hold on to an unspoken grudge that served neither of us any purpose.
So here is my new mantra: Acknowledge. Own your part. Move on.
This way, if things don’t go well, you can still move on, without the grudge. You can have the person in your life or not, but when push comes to shove, if you follow this little rule, I don’t think you will get burned quite as often. It is hard to really confront someone who has hurt you, but I learned today that even when it is hard, the rewards can be great. I was prepared for both a positive and negative response, and would have been happy with either result because I knew in my heart what I wanted. I wanted my friend back, and I wanted to help if I could, but I also don’t want to get burned again. The response was positive and we now get to move on together.
So the “Think About This” part is this: What do you do when you need to forgive someone? How do you move on from being hurt? Do you forgive and forget or have you come up with your own ‘mantra’ for dealing with these types of interpersonal conflicts?