Wait, There's More to Forgiveness
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.