Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Forgiveness

Bitterness is a toxin that poisons the soul. It’s the kind of thing that, once planted, spreads like weeds. It thrives in the mind and casts a shadow on all your relationships, whether you realize it or not.

I don’t believe in the “it was no big deal” forgiveness. I think the only real forgiveness is when one person says, “you did this and it hurt me” and the offender acknowledges that they hurt the other person and then they find a way to move forward. Sometimes it isn’t that simple – the offenses go both ways – but glossing them over as though they didn’t happen doesn’t solve anything.

“In a way, it goes to the heart of some of my issues with the education system and modern parenting. After working with children for years, both in homes, in schools and in private centers, the one consistent thing I see that's having a devastating impact on our society is the lack of personal responsibility. Nothing is anyone's fault anymore. I worked with a child in one center where the rule was that children couldn't be asked to apologize. Since we couldn't make them feel sorry, we weren't to ask them to apologize to anyone for anything they did. And so new generations are being conditioned to not only do whatever they want, but not concern themselves with the impact to others because there are no repercussions.”

I posted that on DorothyL in 2005, in a larger context, but this is the part that has relevance here. While it’s true that you can’t make a person feel genuine sorrow for something they’ve done that hurts another person sometimes it is the process of restoration that can bring us to the point that we really realize what we’ve done. At the very least, it forces people to acknowledge that they have hurt another. Perhaps regret and genuine repentance can follow. But if people never have to stop and make that acknowledgement that’s less likely to happen.

Some of us, we carry our wounds like badges.

I don’t believe that forgiveness means everything gets back to what it was. Sometimes that’s gone for good. Other times, a misunderstanding worked out leads to a deeper friendship than ever before.

One thing I know is that carrying around anger isn’t helpful. In the end it hurts one person more than any other – you.

It doesn’t mean we don’t still have our tender spots. Sprain an ankle and you’ll always have some weakness there. But you do have to find a way to not live under things, to move on so that the past isn’t controlling you.

Some days, easier said than done. Still, it's something to strive for.

8 comments:

Jersey Jack said...

Whether you confront the offender or slough it off, it's putting the resentment behind you that's important. Acceptance and moving on is much better for the spirit. 12-stepper axiom that works, IMHO

Christa M. Miller said...

Good post, Sandra. I would add that forgiveness is often a process, not an event. Depends on how much and how often you've been hurt by that particular person. I think at that point it's most important to allow yourself to be in the process of forgiveness. To use your analogy, it's like physical therapy for the sprain - strengthens the muscles and tendons, a process toward preventing further serious injury.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Jack, you've hit the nail on the head. Acceptance and moving on is much better for the spirit.

Christa, I agree there as well. It doesn't happen overnight. Certainly not if you're as stubborn as me!

S. W. Vaughn said...

Great points, Sandra. Personal responsibility is indeed going the way of the -- er, extinct thing (excuse me, my coffee level is low today and metaphor eludes me...).

Anyway, I agree.

And where the heck is everybody today?

Sandra Ruttan said...

My site isn't uploading to Crimespot so I'm not sure what the problem is. But a lot of people are busy in Crimespace these days, and with a lot of bloggers crossposting over there the main blogs are quiet. I haven't decided if I'll crosspost over there regularly or not. It feels more invasive to me - like I'm sticking my 2 cents out a little further. Here, people come if they're interested and so there's less chance people will be offended by my unladylike behaviour and bad language.

Jersey Jack said...

It's Passover. Lot of people taking the day off.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Hmmm. Forgot about that as well. The calendar in my office doesn't have Passover on it.

Erik Ivan James said...

Samdra,
Great post!
I've learned that carrying the baggage of resentment and bitterness always eats at my own soul, never at the soul of the person for whom I carry the baggage. The person I wind up being the most bitter to, is me. I've learned to dumb the baggage.