FORGIVE ME NOT
"Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
— Mark Twain
I was recently involved in a conversation of a group of women who live together and we heard how two of the women broke a rule of the house. Consequently, all of the residents were penalized.
It was very easy to empathize with the women who had followed the rules and were angry with this decision. One of the women who had broken the rules said she had learned her lesson and that it would not happen again.
A couple of the women were angry and had no compassion for those who had broken the rules. For them, I threw out the possibility of forgiveness. It was met with a quick and fervent “Hell no!” It seemed that since they were suffering, they wanted the offenders to suffer by not forgiving them.
Someone stated she didn’t particularly care for the word “forgiveness.” I asked her what forgiveness meant to her.
Her response was that it seemed to let the offender off the hook.
I get what she’s talking about. When someone says “I’m sorry” I automatically say “it’s ok.”
But is it really enough to say “I’m sorry?” Are we then expected to say, “it’s ok” and just let it go?
What about those people who refuse to admit they’ve done anything wrong? Should we forgive them? Who is forgiveness really for?
Rather than rely on my interpretation of the word forgive, I went to the dictionary.
“Forgive- to stop feeling angry or resentful toward someone for an offense, flaw or mistake.”
Was it as simple as that? Was it as complicated as that? Just stop feeling angry or resentful?
This definition says nothing about the other person making amends or even admitting wrong doing. Forgiveness is simply a choice on the part of the forgiver. Simple but not easy.
And why do we choose to hold on to our anger and resentment?
I once had a friend that I decided had done me wrong. I held on to my anger and resentment for years. Funny thing is, she went on about her life as I was “punishing” her with my non-forgiveness. Truthfully, the only one who suffered was me.
Finally, I had to face the fact that what I really wanted was to be right and for her to be wrong. And I wanted the world to see this too. I was happy in my own miserable righteousness.
Then I realized that the only one I was hurting was me. I finally forgave her (and myself), let go of my anger and resentment and we patched up our friendship.
When we are unforgiving with others we are usually just as unforgiving with ourselves. This has been the case for me.
I want to be “right” so whenever I have judged myself as wrong or bad, I find it very difficult to forgive myself.
The Bible teaches that we should forgive those who wrong us 70 x7 times. I believe this means that we are to try our best to choose to be open, accepting and loving each time we encounter experiences that trigger our anger and resentment. Even with ourselves.
We can choose to be “right” and hold a grudge. However, forgiveness is a sweet fragrance that releases our anger, resentment and righteousness. Its scent fills our hearts and spirits with love and compassion and sets us free.