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Wait, There's More to Forgiveness

Updated on August 28, 2015

Reconciliation as Defined by Merriam-Webster

: the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement

: the process of finding a way to make two different ideas, facts, etc., exist or be true at the same time

Forgive as Defined by Merriam-Webster

: to stop feeling anger toward (someone who has done something wrong) : to stop blaming (someone)

: to stop feeling anger about (something) : to forgive someone for (something wrong)

: to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

Reasons Forgiveness Benefits the One Forgiving

A Hard to Imagine Act of Forgiveness

Forgiveness benefits the one forgiving more than the one being forgiven. That is what we are taught early on and it is a notion often reiterated in some form or another throughout life. But do we really understand it? I thought I did.

Even as a small child I understood forgiveness is a powerful thing. I used to pray for the ability to forgive anyone for anything. To this day, I cannot hold an angry or resentful grudge. No, my lessons on forgiveness always seem to instead deal with overcoming pain, especially pain of loss when a full pardon of reconciliation is not granted.

Is the wrong really so offensive that the nature of a relationship should change? Is feeling resentment toward someone's opinion, actions, or words worth a wedge between friends or family members that cannot be reconciled? These two songs seem to indicate so. Some offenses are worse than others.

I have watched people that I love argue viciously and say the most hateful, spiteful things to each other, knowing it did not have to be that way. Resentment is such a nasty thing. It prevents love from growing and it prevents kindness from prevailing. It is almost inconceivable to me that people will sometimes continue to hurt someone they claim to love, intentionally or not, after realizing that it hurts.

I never wanted that in my life. If someone is important enough to me to upset me that much to begin with, why would I want to hang onto something that divides? I want to forgive and I hope I will be forgiven. More than that, I hope that reconciliation is also possible. We teach our children to work things out and not to let people or things come between friends, for goodness sake. We preach about forgiveness and then struggle with it and mishandle it ourselves.

One can even get forgiveness from or give it to a jackass. ;)

Allowing someone close enough that eventual conflict is inevitable is a vulnerable thing to do because assurances of love are given and reinforced - until they are not. People are fickle that way. We turn on or off feelings with the flip of a switch. Emotions just happen and they can cause conflict, but we ultimately choose how to feel about a person or conflict. We choose whether or not to forgive and whether or not to reconcile differences.

Friendship is not an obligation; it is a gift of Love. But it is not a marriage and it does not require even close to perfect compatibility in the same way a marriage does, although the best of marriages derive from the best of friendships. Perhaps that is because the best of friends know how to perpetually forgive. There is a comfortable security in knowing one will be forgiven if necessary, which is why it cuts so deep when forgiveness does not come quickly or, worse, not at all.

And trying to obtain that kind of forgiveness is not always easy. Neither is giving it. Giving it is especially hard when reconciliation is earnestly desired. Yet trying to convince another to both forgive and reconcile differences in order to stop hurting is as futile as hurting in the first place. Those options are always in the hands of the other.

In my case, I believe in reconciliation with those I love. Forgiveness may be for me, but reconciliation is for both of us. I choose to open my heart with renewed feelings of love and camaraderie even if they are not reciprocated. Life is too short and friendship is too precious not to.

Besides, someone once told me (I paraphrase) that when meeting one's own needs also meets the needs of another reciprocal friendship is achieved. If you ask me, forgiveness is necessary for both reciprocity and reconciliation. We all need those things. We just do not always meet the need.

Remember that many conflicts are because of misunderstandings and misisnterpretations, brought on by often differences, that can be reconciled. It simply requires an open heart and an open mind. Love is not infinite. It is a finite gift constantly in motion, despite initial promises to the contrary.


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    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 21 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      Add Your Commeto be a forgiving person isa noble act but rarely anyone could do it without the faulty ones to say sorry firs

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 21 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Great thoughtful hub!

      'Forgive and forget' is the wise thing to do but easier said than done.

      I appreciate your sincere efforts to explain about forgiveness at a great length. I agree that by forgiving others who have harmed, hurt or insulted us, we are doing more good to ourselves.

      Thank you for sharing your positive thoughts in this well written hub!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Hi, peachpurple. You are right that it is hard to do without a sincere apology first. That is because an apology proves that the feelings of the offended do indeed matter and that the relationship is important to the one who offended. Of course, an apology is not always necessary, especially for minor offenses. It seems to depend more upon how much one is hurt. Even then one is not necesssry to forgive. It just makes it much easier.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Chitrangada, thank you for reading! Forgive and forget indeed, except for the lessons learned. Don't forget them.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 21 months ago from london

      A powerful one here. A bit like Gratitude or Humility, and not easy for some of us, yet so necessary. Excellent and essential HUb.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 21 months ago from Oklahoma

      Engaging analysis of the nature of forgiveness.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 21 months ago from The Caribbean

      Great insights on the topic of forgiveness. "Life is too short and friendship is too precious not to." Thanks.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, manatita. It seems to me that gratitude and humility go hand in hand with forgiveness.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, Larry. Glad you found it to be engaging.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Hi, MsDora. Life really is too short to not enjoy every precious moment with those we love. It does not make sense to love and not show it, especially when forgiveness is necessary.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 21 months ago from South Africa

      Thought-provoking hub!

      Merriam Webster's definition is just perfect - : to stop feeling anger... to stop blaming....

      I would like to add: "To stop regretting... to stop wishing that it never happened.... To accept whatever happened was a lesson we had to learn...

      A tall order! But achievable :)

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Thanks, Martie! I think your additiins arefect, but even after accepting the lessons it is the hurt that is harfest for me to let go of. It almost seems to me as if it just has to run its course, almost like a sudden death.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA

      Forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves. It doesn't need to be equated with weakness.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 21 months ago from south Florida

      This is a sensible, well-written treatise on forgiveness, shanmarie. The greatest lesson, in my mind, is the second line of an anonymous motto shown above . . . "forgive yourself for allowing them (others) to hurt you." That may be the most difficult process for most people. But the most significant.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      I agree one hundred percent, Flourish!

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Hi drbj. I think I agree with what you just said on a personal level, especially since ine has to be clise enough to hurt me rhat much in the first place. The more I care, the harder it is. But when I finally do gobthrough the process, I find peace in knowing I still care as I did before even if no one cares but me. Not doing so, would mean losing part of me and my core values.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 21 months ago from Southern Illinois

      Beautiful and thoughtful hub. Sometimes forgiving someone who has hurt you is difficult but only then can we move on. Loved this....

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Very true, Ruby! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 21 months ago from New York

      Forgiveness can be difficult when you've been hurt. Time will heal the hurt and allow the forgiveness to fill it's place.

      This is well written Shanmarie. Forgiving gives us piece.

      If I may be light hearted for a moment:

      "I've had a few arguments with people, but I never carry a grudge. You know why? While you're carrying a grudge, they're out dancing." Buddy Hackett.

    • shanmarie profile image

      Shannon 21 months ago from Texas

      Hi Mary. I like your light-hearted quote! It's so true!

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