Along with “do not judge,” forgiveness is another one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot in the mind and body community.
Depending on who you speak to, I have been called a forgiving person, and I have been called an unforgiving person. This has always been somewhat amusing to me. Surely, I am either one or another. Can’t I be both?
Perhaps some of the difference of opinion has to do with what I have chosen to forgive in my life. Some have been major. (I forgave the person who sexually abused me when I was 12.) Some have been minor. (I recently forgave the woman who cut out in front of me and “stole” my parking spot in a crowded shopping center. I figured walking an extra 100 feet or so really wasn’t going to do any harm—snow and wind chill factor be damned.)
However, there are other times when I have not been not so forgiving.
Recently, such an occasion occurred when someone I had a falling out with over two years ago recently contacted me out of the blue asking if I would do a favor for them. The favor, which involved taking them to the local airport , was not that major. However, I could not believe this person had the gall to contact me, given our last exchange.
In a nutshell, for reasons I still do not fully understand, we had one of those minor falling outs that quickly snowballed into something more and ended with one final, nasty email from the person and that was it, until receiving this recent request.
My response was succinct and to the point: no and do not contact me again.
When I shared this with friends, most commented that they thought I had done the right thing and that they probably would have said more to this individual.
The topic of forgiveness came up, too.
I mentioned a few times that I supposed this proved I was not a forgiving person.
However, when I thought more about it, it occurred to me. I had forgiven that person. I had done it awhile ago. I was not interested in causing them any pain. I did not rub my hands in glee because I imagined they probably had alienated their other friends and were asking me as a last resort. In short, while I don’t wish any ill-will toward this person, I don’t want them in my life either.
Sometimes, I think that’s the point that people miss.
Forgiveness means to stop feeling angry or resentful towards someone. It does not mean that we have to love or like them. It also does not mean that we have to do favors for them. Frankly, I prefer to do favors for people I care about.
It is indeed possible to forgive and sometimes in order to fully forgive someone, we cannot have them in our lives.
(Letting Go Can Bite Me.) This is How We Forgive.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives
Read 53 comments and reply