Forgiveness

I’ve had a lot of time to think about forgiveness in the past year.
I asked a friend how she would define forgiveness, and she replied with, “It’s realizing that someone is truly sorry for whatever action they committed and making the decision to try to move on from the situation.”
I can’t agree.
I can’t define forgiveness in a nice concise sentence like she did. It’s a little more complex and hard to define for me.
All I know is that in the past year I have had friends abandon me when I needed them most then want to come back when it’s convenient for them.
I have had various people treat me like worthless garbage- some just people around me, others people who should never make me feel that way.
I have been cheated on by my ex-boyfriend, who made so many, now empty, promises.
I’ve had all this and more to think about when it comes to forgiveness this past year. I’ve learned to forgive a lot of people who I never got apologies from, and probably never will. So no, I cannot agree that forgiveness is recognizing that someone is truly sorry.
Because my old friends were not sorry.
The people that made me believe I was worthless and called me names aren’t sorry.
My ex-boyfriend is not sorry.
The thing that I’ve found about forgiveness is that it isn’t admitting that what they did is “ok” or that you aren’t hurt. Because it’s not “ok”, and if you weren’t hurt forgiveness wouldn’t be necessary in the first place.
Forgiveness to me is about healing. It isn’t looking the person in the eye and saying, “Hey, you hurt me, BUT THAT’S OK.” I think that too often we use “I forgive you” and “it’s ok” synonymously, and they are not.
Forgiveness is letting go of the anger, hatred, and animosity because holding onto those negative feelings never made anyone feel any better. It won’t change what happened, and- here’s the kicker- no matter how mad you get, and no matter how much you hate them, it will NOT make the other person sorry.
I can silently hate people that are rude to me, but it won’t change anything.
I can call and yell at my ex-boyfriend until he blocks my number, but it won’t get me an apology.
Hatred and anger never change people. Forgiveness is understanding that we are all broken people, and really, none of us deserve to be forgiven at all.
Forgiveness is looking someone in the eye and saying, “You messed up. We all mess up. And no, that’s not ok. I’m hurt, but I’m releasing you from the blame and guilt.” Forgiveness is about extending grace because THAT is what changes people.
Holding onto grudges and anger-that never changes anything.
But grace CAN change people.
No. It’s not ok. But I forgive you anyways.
Some people may view this as being a pushover or weak, but forgiving someone doesn’t mean you extend the same level of trust or completely forget what happened. I think it just means you’re letting go of the hate and the anger. And if that’s weak, let me be weak because life is so much happier that way, and the world would be a much better place if everyone learned to live like that.
Perhaps the most important situation we can apply this model of forgiveness is with ourselves.
When I left school, I felt like a failure. I looked at everyone around me doing what normal people my age do and thought, “Everyone else can do this, and I couldn’t. Why can’t I do this?”
I had to forgive myself.
I had to extend grace to myself.
In doing this I realized that no, to me leaving school was not “ok,” and it hurt. A lot. But I could either hate myself and be miserable while continuing to ruin my mental health, or I could forgive myself and find the many silver linings to the situation. I could heal. And that has made all the difference.

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