How I Approach Forgiveness

How I Approach Forgiveness

Forgive and forget, it’s a phrase I have heard hundreds of times in my life from dozens of family members and close friends.

In times of trouble and in times of doubt, this phrase has been offered to me as comforting words of advice, something that was meant to alleviate the stress I was under. But in reality, this phrase has always haunted me and placed an added pressure onto my shoulders. The phrase “forgive and forget” bonds together to very different actions and makes it seem as though it is impossible to accomplish one without doing the other.

To be quite frank, I want to forgive but I never want to forget. I don’t want to carry around the burden of grudges, but I do want to remember what someone did to upset or hurt me. I don’t want to just dismiss issues or conflicts and sweep them under the rug for the sake of calling a truce between myself and another person. I want to get to the root of the problem, to uncover what went wrong, to learn from the mistakes that were made and to make sure that I am never hurt in that same way again.

I am not one to hold a grudge for an extended period of time, but it does take a little while to truly forgive someone. If I’m going to go ahead and tell someone that I forgive them, then I want to make sure that I actually mean what I am saying. I want to work through the issues that I have with that person on my own time. I don’t believe that anyone is entitled to forgiveness, it is something that must be earned. A person who wants to be forgiven must actively prove that they are still worthy of trust and friendship. I don’t expect anyone to drastically change themselves or correct all of their flaws, but I do expect them to think about the effects that their actions or words had on other people.

I place a high value on friendship. I want to surround myself with kind, positive and caring people who help better me as a person. I want friends that I can count on to be honest with me, to treat others with respect and to be there when I need them. I don’t have time to waste on people who don’t have true and good-hearted intentions. For me, friendship is a sacred gift that is shared between people. It is something that can be given just as quickly as it can be taken away.

When someone hurts me or upsets me in some way, I can almost always find it within myself to forgive them. After some introspective thinking and analyzing, I can rationalize with myself why it is healthier to let go of the pain and the anger and move on. But just because I forgive another person does not automatically mean that I still want them to be a close friend. Granting forgiveness to someone means that I am releasing myself from any of the stress or the tension that I felt towards that person. I am allowing myself to remove the situation from the forefront of my mind and to go back to focusing on other matters. Granting forgiveness to someone does not mean that they are suddenly back in my good graces.

When you break my trust or stab me in the back, the wounds may heal but they leave scars that make it impossible to ever entirely forget what happened. If there is one thing I have learned in life, it is that not everyone who walks into your life is meant to stay in it forever. Some people will always be there for you while others are just temporarily along for the ride. If someone hurts you in any way, you are under no obligation to let them back into your life. The decision is yours to make: you can grant forgiveness and move on with the friendship or you can grant forgiveness and move on without the friendship.

As the old saying goes, “Forgiveness does not mean we must forever act as though the incident never happened. Forgiveness demands that we forever act as thought the offense did happen and that we chose to forgive the person.” The choice to forgive is always yours to make, but make sure that you are pursuing a decision that sets you free.

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