What does it take to forgive someone? Is it necessary to forgive them? If so, why is it necessary to forgive the people in our lives?
Pulling from my childhood, I think about the times my parents would ask me to apologize to my friends. It was a WHOLE ordeal. I would have to walk right up to my friend, look them straight in the eyes, and apologize for stealing and eating their last Cheeto puff. I remember feeling embarrassed initially, but afterwards my friend would hug me and tell me everything's okay… it was nice. My friend would forgive me and the day would carry on.
Children are asked to formally apologize to the people they may hurt because it teaches a life lesson. Consider the times that people have formally apologized to you. It may be many, or it may only be a few, however, the extended hand was noticed. An apology represents the time that someone took to develop a solution to the problem. People appreciate formal apologies because it represents that someone cares. It represents their respect for other people and their consideration for their feelings.
Now, I want to mention that an apology does not imply forgiveness. Just because someone says I am sorry, does not mean that the other person forgives them. It is a decision to choose whether or not to forgive someone, and it all depends on the individual circumstances.
Forgiveness is a conscious decision to release feelings of bitterness or animosity toward someone that has instilled harm on them. It is an active step forward. I find for myself that forgiveness can be an internal battle. I find it difficult to forgive where trust has been lost. Doors slam shut once pain is felt in an effort to protect ourselves from experiencing that feeling again. It is not easy to open those doors back up, because pain is not something people like to invite back into their lives. Sometimes those doors slam shut and a heavy lock is popped on. I recognize that pain is not an enjoyable feeling, however I also recognize that growth is limited when doors are closed. The challenge is, how can we build up the courage to open those closed doors again?
Invite the mentality that there is always something to take away from life experiences. Invite the practice of communicating through pain. Invite a willingness to re-open doors. Invite forgiveness.
There is no doubt that pain will be experienced throughout our lives. This world runs on human encounters and it is inevitable that humans will experience things that may upset them. It is important to understand and accept that pain is going to be present in our lives. However, how people interpret that pain is an essential aspect of developing healthier lifestyles. I find that forgiveness is a productive mechanism in experiencing painful situations.
There is always going to be something to take away from life experiences; both positive and negative. It is important to consider the ins and outs of why things happen the way they do. It takes more energy to dread the bad things than it does to accept that it happened and move on. I am an advocate for forgiveness not only to give other people a second chance but for another reason as well. I am an advocate for forgiveness because it is a healthier choice for yourself. Forgive others so that you, yourself, can sleep at night knowing that you have come to terms with the madness of this world. Forgive others so that you can enjoy the little moments again. Forgive others for yourself.