How Do You Define Forgiveness?

 An awful lot of people say things like, “That’s ok ….what you did….its alright. I forgive you.” Think about it. How often do you hear someone profusely apologizing, and the other person saying “No,  that’s ok! Don’t worry about it!”  The injured party is actually trying to make the person who hurt them feel better!   Actually, most of the time, its not alright. It could be something as trivial as someone stepping on your toe – that’s not alright. It hurts! Or someone accidentally spilling coffee on  your white shirt.   That’s not alright.   It burns AND ruins your clothing.

It is not ok to hurt someone intentionally or otherwise. (Bear with me please, I will get to my definition of forgiveness in a minute.) This becomes an important concept in my work with couples. Or adult children of alcoholic/abusive/fill-in-the blanks damaging parents.  I do believe forgiveness is neccessary in a wounded relationship in order for any healing and growth to take place . But to say or mean it as I’ve described it actually minimizes the painful behavior by implying, in essence, that it wasn’t that bad (when it was).  It also minimizes the very person doing the forgiving.

A better concept, I think, is this: When hurtful behavior has occurred, an emotional debt is owed. Just ask anyone you know who has gone for months, years,  resentful of wrongdoing by a loved one.   They’ll tell you how much they are owed. They will also tell you how impossible it would be for the person who hurt them to pay them back.  And they are right. By now the emotional debt is probably higher than the gross national debt. Forgiveness in my mind is being willing to write off that debt and start over. When you say “I forgive you” its about wiping the slate clean,  accepting the apology and remorse of the  person as they are now, having renwewed faith in the person, and moving forward.  It means you’ve processed the hurt,  felt the emotions, and started healing. These words should not be said prematurely in an anxious attempt to make things better because to do so will make things worse.

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2 Responses to “How Do You Define Forgiveness?”

  1. Howard MacKinnon Says:

    Thanks for your wonderful insight, as with any form of life changing events we should always study and look for the right solutions and follow our hearts… and it is never to late to say “I am sorry” for anything! Healing takes time, but worth it when you can forgive others.

    Thanks again,

    Howard

  2. girl Says:

    Forgivenees is when you are forgiven for what you have done.

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