Friday, 20 April 2012

What Is Real Forgiveness?

Forgiveness is typically defined as the process of concluding resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand punishment or restitution (Wikipedia).

Ceasing to demand punishment I say in a coy voice. This is a real tough one for me.

I know that in the past I have truly forgiven people for causing me great offence but I now wonder if, after looking back at the matter, I really ceased from demanding punishment. I kept them out of my personal life and space permanently. Out of sight and out of mind. 

Furthermore, I recently began to think, was it right to have nothing more to do with those people? Don't get me wrong on this, how could you ever trust them again? What's the point in playing games with people and wasting one's time? Isn't that the purpose of having this thing called a memory, so that you don't forget? Are we not told, that 'those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it', so why put yourself back in the firing line, then complain that you got shot? After all, losing your memory is seen as a bad thing, so why deny it's use? 
I fully understand that some relationships need to be severed for safety's sake and for peace of mind, but I was severing on a different level. 

I have in the past tried to continue offended relationships, but it always ends in resentment, anger and bad thoughts against that person. I have no problem being polite and saying hello when I bump into them, but anything more would simply make me feel like a hypocrite, pretending to enjoy their company when all I'm really thinking about is how they might 'stab me in the back' again. You see, I don't like 'living in the grey'. I like to know where I stand, so trust and honesty are very important factors in the people I have around me. Sever it, and I'm done. 

With all that said, does it mean therefore that I have not truly forgiven them, because if I had, wouldn't I be willing to give them a second chance? That's my dilemma and this is what has been bugging me for a number of weeks now.


So, my big questions are:
What does it really mean to forgive, and can you share your stories of real forgiveness with us? 
Should you forget what was done to you and move on as if nothing happened?
How many chances should you give someone before you call it a day? 

22 comments:

  1. the bible say we should forgive 70times70 but the flesh says other wise i think it is very important for us to forgive because it could cause us to become bitter and build hate towards the person there was only two people in my life that i could care less about and could see them and not look at them and i can say i hated them and of course didnt forgive them for things they did but someone have to be the bigger perosn and say you know what i dont hate you nor do i like you but i forgive you because i had to make peace with myself as time goes by i am starting to like them later with gods help i will love them step by step but i wont be friends with them you can love like and forgive without commitment but i will say i am a three strikes you out kind of girl i will speak to you if i see you on the street but thats all you gonna get cuz all the cool points went out of the window different strokes for different folks ( nice post as they all are)

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    1. Angelique
      70 x 7 is a lot. This is where I struggle big time, I definately don't have the patience to do that but I know what you mean by it. I guess it also depends on the deepness of offense, and by whom. Thanks.

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  2. True forgiveness is such a long drawn out process - one day you will feel that everything is resolved. The next, you wonder... it doesn't mean you haven't forgiven. It just means that your heart still needs to catch up with your brain and your will. And there is nothing wrong with losing trust in someone who is untrustworthy - they will need to regain your trust. If they don't, you have every right to throw up some protective boundaries, to set limits on how they can treat you in the future - this is only wisdom. I wish you well in your process!

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    1. Melody
      I like the way you put it. I was actually thinking that I had forgiven people in the past, BUT, if I still felt bad when I saw them, did it mean I had not forgiven them (if this makes sense).

      I guess my heart still has some catching up to do. I need to work on the severing issue as well :) Thanks for the comment.

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    2. That makes perfect sense. I, too, struggled with my emotional content resurfacing. I am learning that in the process, change happens slowly, in fits and starts, bits and pieces. Think of yourself as 2 entities - your hurt self and your higher self. At moments, your hurt self surfaces and reacts. At others, your higher self responds. This explains the shift in dynamics and all the confusion that surrounds the act of forgiving. I have lost relationships in setting appropriate boundaries - but have gained my self-respect and dignity. And forgiving despite their lack of involvement sets me free from the continuing drama!

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  3. I can so relate to this. It is easy to forgive, but hard to forget. It really takes time before all wounds get healed.

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    1. Littleyana, its taking me years, my wounds are healed until I see them, then the re-opening takes place, although I genuinely hold no malice against anyone.

      If I do bump into them my shields go up higher than the heavens above. Thanks for your comments.

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  4. According to me...the real means of forgiveness is simply to bury their all those negatives that you expecting from them and start the good relationship with them....

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    1. Anum
      I would love to be able to do this, but have never succeeded.
      You have given me 'food for thought' because to be totally honest, if the tables were turned I would expect to be forgiven and given another chance!

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  5. You can forgive, but that does not mean that it did nit happen and there are repercussions. Part of asking forgiveness is accepting the consequences of your actions, including the betrayal of trust. Part of making amends is to work to rebuild that trust. If they do not work at it, IMHO then they did not want forgiveness, they wanted you to forget it happened. Start over, wash the slate clean, that is not really forgiveness. Forgiveness is acknowledging the problem and working past it. Gaining closure.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts on this Jamie. Gaining that closure is always part of the hard bit.

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    2. I think forgiveness is starting over, washing the slate clean and moving on from the past... to reach some kind of neutrality and rebuilding what was destroyed. By not doing that... you are simply building from the same foundations that was no good in the first place. I might have misunderstood but it sounds like what jamiesmiles want is some form of punishment or revenge in the form that the person seeking forgiveness must earn it. I disagree with this concept.

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    3. Thank you for commenting Anonymous, you've made a good point about forgiveness. Yes, I think may have misunderstood what Jamie said as he wasn't referring to revenge etc.

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  6. Think of it like grief. You lose a loved one, and the pain is very intense. You find it hard to concentrate on your usual routine, your daily activities. Sadness permeates every facet of your life. Now skip ahead five years into the future. You still feel sad whenever you think of your loss, but it no longer affects you in the same way. Most of the time you're just living your life, concentrating on other things. To me, that's forgiveness, moving on, putting it behind you. Naturally, it still hurts when you think about it, but it doesn't rule your life the way it once did. Forgiveness is really more between you and yourself than you and the other person.

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    1. Nothingprofound, this is a really good step by step way to look at the situation. It is like a grief ,especially when you previously had a very close relationship that has abruptly ended. Thanks for your input.

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  7. This time I waited to learn what people in general think "forgiveness" is, before starting my crochet and tatting on this subject, not to repeat things already said.

    I think "forgiveness" is, I will try to define it from my viewpoint: like so many other thing as "LOVE (all in upper case), Honesty, Charity (almost repeating LOVE, but in a lower degree), Truth, Trust, etc, an unattainable goal for humankind.

    I do not know if we started as perfect beings, but if so, something happened that transformed us in (I was going to define ourselves as 'freaks', but it is not fair, because I do not have enough evidence of it) anyway, something happened that
    transformed us into what we are now. I mean, not perfect.

    We are walking a path of redemption, it seems, from the ape that discovered the use of a bone to hit his own kind, as in the movie 2001, going into eye for an eye, to love each other (I am not delving in religions, only taking stages as history reaches us), and hopefully, in time, we will develop into better parameters.

    Nowadays, we have not reached any good stage yet when we deal with offense. It depends on the degree of it, and of many other things inside our body, but once the trigger of pain has been pulled, we cannot manage it.

    We will make rationalizations about how we must forgive and forget, how we could forgive but not forget, that we must try and leave it all behind, and many other beautiful thoughts.

    We are master in the creation of "commodities" to explain our behavior, but the real truth, when we want to recognize it, is that we do not forget, do not forgive, do not put it behind us, nor make anything except getting this issue hurting us, each time it rears its ugly head in front of our eyes. I guess that if this would not have been so, there would have been no need to remind us we "must" forgive 70 time 7, that is "always".

    As I wrote above, maybe in time, we will learn to act somewhat better, but meanwhile, I think, and it is only my opinion, not any truth in any way, we will continue "forgiving" in half-truth ways.

    The only concession I may think of, is that as an exception, there may be saintly people who can forgive in full, but I still need to meet one of them.

    I do hope to have answered your questions, Rumpunch!

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    1. Some say we were born perfect - innocent, pure little babies. Some say we were born in sin - the fall of Adam.
      Others say we are shaped daily by our upbringing and social environment, so these are the main influences on who we become ie: good person or bad person.

      I think we have to strive to be our higher selves, so even when it does not feel natural we still have to do our best.

      I know of people who have truly forgiven their offenders, and I judged this by observing their behaviour towards the person on a long term basis (although I do not know the mind). So I know it can be done, but it doesn't work for a lot of people.
      Thanks Untony. Yes, you have answered Rumpunch :)

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  8. It is the exact same issue I've been struggling with!!...
    I've realized one thing though, and that is that where there was true love (in any of the possible ways), I'm inclined to forgive. And I mean, I really DO forgive!!...
    I'm aware of the person's 'weaknesses' so to say, and I'm on my guard with regards to that, but the love for the person is bigger than what the person ever did to hurt me...
    Whereas, where I felt no kind of bond with, or loving feeling for, the person; OR where the person did something really bad to me, the 'anger' remains!... And the justification for severing all contact to that person stays.

    What has been bogging me lately though is, when I 'let go' (like they say one should 'let go'), am I forgiving the person? Or am I just putting the what happened aside me? Can I forgive but still not want to have anything to do with those people?

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    1. To me it seems as though you have answered your own question.
      Your forgiveness is based upon whether you truly love the person.
      If you do, you don't want to see a disruption of the relationship, so you forgive, in order to allow it to continue.

      If you don't love the person, that incentive is not there, so you allow unforgiveness to bring about a severance.

      So forgiveness is a means to an end. The continuance of a relationship with the person you love. Upon which your forgiveness is conditional.

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  9. From time to time, I have struggled with the issue of forgiveness. For me, forgiving means that I am able to let go of the anger and the pain. It means that no further apologies are necessary, and that I no longer feel the need to exact punishment. It does not require that I forget what happened, particularly since that would be impossible. After all, it happened, it had consequences. The memory may always have some sadness attached. But with time the recurrence of that slightly sad memory will become less frequent and less important. It will be possible to see that person and think about him in the present rather than in the past.

    Forgiveness does not always mean that you must resume your former relationship with the other person. Whether I want to do that, or whether I can do that, depends on many variables. Is the person genuinely remorseful, or does he think that the matter was too trivial to be a problem? Does he accept responsibility, or does he blame someone else? Was the incident likely just a fluke or a misunderstanding, or does it represent an ongoing pattern of behavior? Is he making a genuine attempt to do better, or is it business as usual? It is possible to forgive someone and even to wish him well, yet still decide that your life is better off if you don't include him, or if you include him only in a lesser role.

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    1. Thanks for commenting Rosemary, you also gave me some good variables to think about.

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