Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pondering the Concept of Forgiveness and Emotional Healing:

We are human.  We make mistakes.  Once we accept that fact about ourselves we also have to accept the fact that others will make mistakes also.  In our relationships with people we will make mistakes in our dealings with them and we will also feel the effect of mistakes that others make.

“To err is human, ”
~ Alexander Pope
Mistakes have consequences and one of the saddest is when a mistake causes grief or sorrow or pain. Now I am not talking about criminal mistakes like theft or murder.  I am talking about the mistakes that often happen in the heat of the moment.  Things like saying unkind or thoughtless words or spreading untrue rumours and gossip. 
“We are all mistaken sometimes; sometimes we do wrong things, things that have bad consequences. But it does not mean we are evil, or that we cannot be trusted ever afterward.”  ~ Alison Croggon
The fact that these things happen is not a problem, the problem arises when there is no apology offered for the offending words. At the time of the incident, or shortly thereafter a sincere apology can quickly resolve the injury and the friendship can heal and move forward.
“More people should apologize, and more people
should accept apologies when sincerely made.”
~ Greg LeMond

 It is the silence and withdrawal following an error in judgment and hastily spoken words that changes the relationship.  When the person who has said damaging or accusatory things removes themselves from the relationship, when they refuse to talk things through, then the relationship suffers.  When gossip has been spread as truth, the consequence to the relationship is a withering of trust.  Suddenly someone who was close is now like a stranger, distant and unapproachable.  Something precious has died.
“A genuine apology provides so much benefit with so little cost,it is surprising and unfortunate it is not more common.”  ~ Leland R. Beaumont
This leaves an emotional wound.  In the absence of resolution, the hurt festers.  Some wounds are just superficial.  However attacks on integrity and character assassinations create wounds that penetrate deeply, to the very core of our being.  These are wounds that can last a lifetime. 

 “Genuine forgiveness does not deny anger but faces it head-on.”
~ Alice Duer Miller

To move forward we have to grieve the loss of what was once good.  The relationship has withered and died.  But the hurt remains.  We remember and replay the hurting event over and over. We cannot forget but at some point in time we have to forgive. We don’t forgive the actual thoughtless words or actions, but we accept that humans make mistakes and we forgive our ex-friend the mistake. We do not forget but rather we accept the character flaw that prevents them from offering restitution for their mistake.

"Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future."  ~ Louis B. Smedes

If we can forgive the mistake, we can move on.  It does not heal the relationship, because healing requires sincere apology from the offending party.  Rather, in the absence of an apology, forgiveness can create a sense of closure.  The open sore can become a healed wound or scar and the possibility of new relationships can be entertained.
"Anger makes you smaller, while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were." ~Cherie Carter-Scott

Since healing and moving in on is what becomes important for your personal survival, it is important to work your way step by step through the stages of grieving, through forgiveness. The building of a bridge to the future becomes a lifeline.  Forgiveness is not absolving the other person of what they have done but rather an acceptance of their human frailty.  Forgiveness is not forgetting but rather a letting go.  A decision to get off the treadmill that has you living in the past with the hurtful event and moving forward with optimism to a new a different and hopefully better future.

 “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
~ Suzanne Somers
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