Lessons In Forgiveness That Your Elders Never Taught You

The bible has over a dozen verses referencing forgiveness and how the act leads and keeps you in the good graces of God. Here’s the thing, that’s not necessarily how it is supposed to work. Now, please note there will be no bashing of anyone for their religions nor a dissection of religiosity to make a point. What will be done is to explain why forgiveness is not what people have alluded it to be and why we need to reshape our employment of it so we can lead better lives.

When something erroneous is done to us, the first thing people expect is an apology. The next step that is expected is forgiveness. In this instance, forgiveness is sort of a canceling of the grievance committed, whether it be physical or emotional. It is automatically expected that you forgive the person that has done you wrong because you will feel better and be in the best graces of that person, and others will think better of you. That’s the lessons that have been handed down to us through years of verbal drilling and moral instilling. But here is what they do not tell us, what we know about apologies and forgiveness is wrong.

Apologies Are Not Made Equal
We cannot expect that every time we make an apology or when one is issued that it is automatically accepted. We are expected to have the same understanding of forgiveness and apologies, and to respond the same, no matter what. That is fallacious thinking that has gotten us in this web of moral dissonance. When we accept people for who they are and they act in their truth, there should be no apology for what is. Apologizing does not change what has happened. Apologizing does not reverse time and make everything better. Apologizing does not replace acknowledging and holding yourself accountable for your truth. Therefore, for some people apologies don’t mean jack. For us to be walking around expecting that apologies magically heal wounds is neglecting the fact of accountability. Accountability is what helps heal wounds. Accountability opens the doors for others to see you putting in the effort to heal. But the sad truth, if you harm someone (intentionally or otherwise) they are not required to accept any notion of accountability on your part. If their healing is to remove you from their realm, in peace of course, then you have to accept that. If that person perceives you as toxic and chooses to release you from their life, you have to live with that.

Apologizing does not change what has happened. Apologizing does not reverse time and make everything better. Apologizing does not replace acknowledging and holding yourself accountable for your truth.”

Let this be stated clearly, FORGIVENESS IS NOT REQUIRED. Nope. No way. Uh-Uh. It is not required. This is where the fallacious notions of forgiveness are going to start going haywire because they are engraved in the most intimate places. Forgiveness is not required, no matter how necessary it is.

When we hurt people in ways that scar deep beyond our understanding of their emotional boundaries, they are not required to forgive us for that pian. While we hope that after whatever is done forgiveness will be extended and all will be well with the world, that’s not entirely plausible nor should be expected. In the end, all will be well with the world but you may never be forgiven or you may never forgive.

The Ambiguity of Forgiveness
As humans we can be pretty foul and messed up creatures inflicting a world of hurt on others. Whether we are running with the residue of generational pain, or creating new streaks because we never learned how to heal; we are capable of scarring those we love in ways unimaginable. It happens. How people react to the event, how you are perceived after, and what you do in the aftermath is what will determine how your healing process will go.

To forgive is to no longer feel resentment towards a person, or to absolve someone from having hurt you. Both definitions can either be mutually inclusive or exclusive; the resolve, however, is dependent on the person and what they decide to do.

There is a very high probability that if you seriously hurt someone, you will never be forgiven. And they have every right to do so. You screwed up. You did the unthinkable and some lines are not meant to be crossed. For every action there are consequences; losing the trust and denial of forgiveness are consequences that come with the territory. You have to deal with it. Forgiveness may not be given to you, but you need to forgive yourself. Take a moment, that probably tripped you up a little.

Forgive yourself.

Forgiveness is not just for those we hurt. Forgiveness is also personal, and if you are truly holding yourself accountable for your mess you need to forgive yourself.

We were taught that we have to extend forgiveness or be forgiven in order to heal and move forward… nothing could be further from the truth. There is something sacred about seeing your own flaws and learning to forgive them. Choosing to learn from your mess, from consequences presented, and from lessons derived from being messy is the better way to approach any path to healing and forgiveness, for ourselves. It cannot be forced, coerced, or begged out of a person. It has to occur naturally, and entirely independent of outside influence. Forgiveness does not look the same on everyone, and for that matter does not occur on the same timeline.

Freedom Means Letting Go

More accurately, you need to heal if you truly want to be free. Holding yourself accountable, learning personal forgiveness, and living in truth is the truest path to freedom. If you have to rely on the perception and acceptance of other people in order to move on, they hold the power over you. Waiting on apologies that may never happen, forgiveness that will never come, and accountability that will remain unseen is to become slave to the will of others. Forgiveness is being able to be accountable for yourself; having the fortitude to grow and prosper in the acknowledgement of wrongdoing, created by you and/or against you. You are responsible for the well being of yourself, first. Hurt people, hurt people. To end the cycle you have to call a spade a spade and work on your mess- what you’ve created or what was created for you. The burden is yours because only you can live your life and you have to give permission to others to affect it.

Forgiveness is very personal. It was not created for the other person to have reign over how you move through life. Reclaiming that power means to see people for who they are, to see yourself for who are, to hold yourself highly accountable, and to show up in good or bad. We are humans and we are flawed. We are not perfect. We are messy. We are emotional. We are multifaceted and all encompassing, and we make mistakes. Accept that. Understand that. Know that. When it becomes time to extend grace and forgiveness, extend it to yourself first. Then and only then will freedom begin to take place.

Writer • Brand & Communications Strategist | Pageant queen w/ love of food & wanderlust - IG & Twitter: @alindaenolam