Finding the Strength to Forgive
The Serenity Prayer
Plain and simple, forgiveness is important for our overall well being.
Forgiveness is something we are all taught to do, especially when an apology is offered. Do we continue to forgive someone, when that person doesn't seem to understand that there are only so many times that someone can turn the other cheek? How many times do we turn the other cheek? The previous questions are rhetorical, mainly because there isn't a set limit, there isn't a finite number. It all depends on the individual person. We all have our limits. We all have lines that we will not allow to be crossed.
We've all heard that forgiveness isn't for the other person, it’s for ourselves. First though, we have to find the strength to forgive the other person, so that we can then have the added strength to forgive ourselves.
Forgiving one self, now that is a hard thing to do, we tend to be harder on ourselves than we do other people. We all have such high expectations for who we feel we should be, and we will forgive other people even the slightest infraction against us. But yet, when it comes to ourselves, for the least of transgressions, we beat ourselves up, with a barrage of negative thoughts. We are not as generous giving ourselves absolution, as we are towards others. We are fairer with other people, than we are ourselves.
We all know that it is human nature to be harder on ourselves than on the other person, there is a multitude of reasons this could be, but that really isn't what I want to focus on in this particular hub, because to forgive yourself, you need to first forgive or at least come to terms with the incident or series of incidents that created a need for forgiveness in the first place.
To forgive someone, doesn't always mean a request for absolution has been made. Sometimes it just means you are tired of hanging onto the anger, the bitterness, and the pain. It means you are ready to move on, but the transgression inflicted is holding you back from taking the next steps on your journey. Granted it helps to move on, if an appeal for exoneration comes from the transgressor, so that true closure of the situation can happen. That is not a luxury we will always be on the receiving end of, so we have to learn to accept a situation in whatever way we can, so that we can have mercy not only on the other person, but on ourselves, so that we can have peace within our heart.
What about when an apology has been offered, but you can’t find it within your heart to grant clemency? The admission that sorrow for the malignant deed has been extended is made, but being able to bestow forgiveness is not happening at the moment an apology is given. What do you do? What does it take to get to the point where you can simply say, “I forgive you”?
I’m finding that even though absolution has been asked for, sometimes it can’t be granted. I believe you can let the other person know you acknowledge that the apology has been made, but because of the extenuating circumstances, it’s not always possible to immediately grant forgiveness. Because of who I am as a person, this part is the hardest, and most draining on my soul. This is the point where you have to ask yourself some questions that will be difficult to get the answers.
Some of the questions might be: Did the person sincerely mean the apology? Was the apology offered, not because the person felt they were in the wrong, but because it what they felt they are supposed to do? Was the person requesting absolution because someone else told them they should, and they want to try and impress and earn the respect of the person advising that they should apologize? The last two reasons are not valid reasons, and I think when those two are suspected, it makes forgiving a bit more difficult. But that begs the question, how does the person offering the apology prove it is a heartfelt apology?
In my opinion, you can tell if someone is truly trying to make amends, is a combination of things. How the person apologizes, the body language, the tone of voice that is used, and the timing of the apology, are how I’m able to determine if the apology is genuine or not. For myself, if any of these don’t come across as authentic and sincere, then I am usually left with doubt and forgiveness is not readily forthcoming. Now the question, how do you get past an apology that was offered with hidden motives?
Honestly, I’m not really sure. Maybe looking at your own part in the whole situation, and then accepting the situation as it is. Mainly because you know that the situation won’t change, that the apology presented is the best you are going to get, because that’s the best the other person can do.
As I’ve stated before, I write about what I know, and I am struggling right now with a situation, and at this point and time, it’s on me. So perhaps, I have forgiven the other person, and right now I’m working on forgiving me? By writing this out, I have helped myself more than I thought I would.
We all need to forgive and be forgiven. We don’t have to forget, because if we forget, then we forget the lesson that was learned, and are doomed to repeat the situation over and over again. We have to treat each person and each situation as individual, so we aren’t making someone else pay for someone else’s errors. Doing so is not fair to anyone, and since it is a lesson that wasn’t learned, then that too is cursed to be repeated.
A lesson we all need to learn is to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others, because we deserve forgiveness, kindness and mercy as much as those we show forgiveness, kindness and mercy to.