You know the saying that goes “To err is human, to forgive, divine”
Of late, I’ve been reading quite a lot about forgiveness and I must admit, I’ve learned a few things – nay – concepts. It is all about perception, you know.
And before you wonder, let me tell you – I’ve sent my halo to my celestial mechanic – so I am not going to offer any tips here. Instead, I want to share some inspiring quotes about forgiveness. You know why? Because no matter how much we read about forgiveness, it is going to be someone’s perspective based on what they’ve learned through their experiences.
While it is usually great to learn from someone’s experiences, I’ve found that it may nor may not always apply to certain things – and forgiveness is one of them. For instance, I have my own views. And I was curious to know what some of the people I know thought.
To find out, I sent an email out to some of my friends asking them to email me back to tell me what their view/opinion about forgiveness was. And sure enough, I got a few replies that I’ve got permission to share here. Without the names of course. Privacy and all that you know. Here are three of the responses – I didn’t bother to edit because they are my closest pals and I love their unique written voice.
“Every time I forgive myself or the others for a wrongdoing, I find myself relieved of the baggage of angst. I also become more accepting of the human in all us. I have learnt that when people hurt us the act tells us more about them – their attitude, their values, their karma than about ours. Thats what makes the forgiveness easy.
I had a situation with a close friend 8 yrs ago when he acted, in a joint busiess we ran, that can best be described as doublecrossing my.interest. We fought and just kept it short of legal action. Over the 6 odd years since we did not speak with each others. I held deep anger against his conduct. But one day I found the anger dissolved against him , I found that I understood how he may have felt for him to have taken the action that he did. I.found myself softening up and more appreciative.
We both have come back as friends again deeply forgiving each other. What stumped us most when we were talking about those times was that neither of us could not relate to ourselves of that time 8 yrs ago. we realized that he and I were different persons than who we are today, certainly more mature today.”
Isn’t that interesting?
“a mistake is a mistake and to make mistakes is only human.. to be able to forgive is the biggest mark of a person’s character. I always believe that everyone makes mistakes and if the person who does make that mistake realizes it and makes a genuine attempt to rectify it, he /she does deserve a second chance.
if you cannot forgive and move on, you will carry that burden all through your life and in the bargain, probably lose a few good friends.”
My ideas on forgiveness are far from benign, simply coz i don’t really believe in it. I feel that it is age that brings on the act of quoting worn, pithy phrases at every turn possible.Clinging like a troubled limpet to best-forgotten-&-decimated incidents takes the hot, surging anger of youth. And you’ll find that it’s generally “mature, wise” people who forgive and forget- especially coz they forget due to memory lapses.
One forgives only people one loves, the ones she can’t let go of. And that act is also of forgiveness. One can never forget. Issues keep festering, eating away at one’s soul. Most people i’ve met are not the forgiving types.
The takeaways here?
- Forgiveness is easy
- It relieves you of the baggage of angst
- It helps you become more accepting of the human in us
- When people hurt us, it is more about them
- To err is human
- The ability to forgive is a sign of strong character
- Someone who is genuinely sorry deserves a second chance
- Why lose a friend because you didn’t forgive?
- It is easier to forgive when you’re older, mature, wiser
- Easy to forgive someone you love
And now, some wonderful quotes on forgiveness, that make it easier to consider practicing it. These are my personal favorites:
“Forgiveness is not something we do for other people; we do it for ourselves – to get well and move on.” (Tweet this)
“Anger makes you smaller; while forgiveness forces you to grow beyond what you were”
Forgiveness brings freedom
freedom from being controlled by the past, from the emotional ties to the offender
freedom from the continual inner conflicts of bitterness and hate
freedom to become whole and enjoy the fullness of life
– Jeanette Vought
Question for you:
What are your views on forgiveness? Do you think it is easy? Tough? Worth it?
Yes it’s easy IF you can get your ego out of the way. When I can remember that my unforgiveness damages me, then I can shift to forgiveness. As the saying goes, forgiveness is setting a prisoner free and realizing that the prisoner was you. I have practiced a technique of radical forgiveness which takes forgiveness a step further to gratitude. Can I do it all the time? No. And sometimes even when I can, I have to repeat the process. But it’s always worth it.
I agree with you, Galen. The key is to remember it is for ourselves. Yet, I have this one instance in my life that makes it difficult for me to get over. I think it is probably because there was no interaction between the person and me – the person simply spoke and walked off, refusing to communicate again.
And no matter how much I analyzed it, I couldn’t figure out what was so bad that the relationship had to break off. Then, of course, it dawned on me that perhaps it was for the best – nobody needs a toxic relationship. Still hurts, though and I wish there was a way I could get over that. I can see how that would be totally worth it.
I am a normally happy person, full of good thoughts because negative drains my energy. I also find it nicer to smile, think positive and show tolerance – but the unfairness of that one thing, I am unable to reconcile.
Thank you so much for your valuable input, Galen. Hugs!
Gosh I can go down a list of people in my past who should be reading this post and taking its advice. I am a forgiver. Probably overly so. However, I’d rather be forgiving than hold contempt and hate inside. It’s not healthy. I believe people make mistakes and if they are truly sorry and try to make amends for their mistakes, then forgiving them should not be a problem. Excellent post Vidya!
Thank you so much Terri. Forgiveness is such a powerful topic and calls for so many views. I believe it depends on each individual’s experience. 🙂 Hugs, thanks so much for sharing what you feel. Love you!
Dear Zen Teacher,
~~~is not wanting somebody to burn in hell forgiveness? I don’t want Kay’s murder to burn in hell. NO! Never! Never.
But I cannot say I forgive him for killing my sister.
On another note, Can I send you one of Kay’s T-shirts from the walk? What size do you wear?
Xxxx Love Love Love.
Kim, I understand 🙁
Love you <3
Dearest Kim, believe it or not – I was thinking of you as I put this post together – and I feel the same way as you do. Some things are just hard to forgive, or forget. I know just how you feel. Things like this always feel like fresh wounds, even if we move on with life. Yet, we have to reach a state of peace, or we suffer. Re: my own experiences, I usually alternate between calm – because I work off my energy and miserable – because it doesn’t always work. Love you. Hugs.
Oh yes – I’d love one of Kay’s T-shirts. I’ll email you – thanks so much. I’ll cherish it forever.
Hugs to you both, Nikky and Kim!
Beautifully put Vidya! I love your takeaway! I love that forgiveness can be for yourself and for others. It’s an amazing thing and it is divine!
I loved this! Thank you!
Right, dear Betsy. I am grateful to my friends who gave me their input for this post 🙂 I only recently started to understand that forgiveness is for us – and not for the other person. Thank you, as ever, for your support – you know I treasure our connection. Love, Vidya
it is very easy for me to forgive, but not to forget. I forgive for myself, for my own good not for the person who has hurt me.
Forgiving brings me peace. That’s what I do, but I don’t blame who can’t forgive.
Dearest Nikky, I am thinking of a particular post I read on your blog recently. I understand what you’re saying – I too find it easier to forgive, but not to forget. I think the crux of forgiveness is in realizing it is for our own peace. Thank you for coming by. Hugs to you, Vidya
I know for a long time when I thought of “forgiveness” it was always about other people. The more I work with other people on the subject I realize I’m not the only one that defaulted to that way of thinking.
I’ve come to believe that forgiveness starts when we learn how to forgive ourselves. We can than forgive others as well.
Mahalo for your thoughts on the subject.
Dear Jt – So wonderful to see you here. Yes, it is easier to do something for ourselves because it puts us in the positive frame of mind to start the process of forgiveness. Life is such a good teacher, no? Love, Vidya
I think forgiveness depends on what was done.
My employer? I will never forgive for putting me through hell for 7 years.
The man who sexually assaulted me? I will never forgive.
Forgiveness is hard. I’m not a grudge holder…but those 2 events really shaped moments in my life and my soul.
Darling Kim, I know what you’re saying. The worst thing about these offenses is knowing they get off scot-free – and live happily ever after. That keeps the hurt raw and alive.
I think, whether we all admit it or not, there are just a few things we carry around, unable to forgive. It is even more terrible when we cannot discuss them – because sharing them is likely to bring consolation that takes away the sharp edges of the pain, and puts us on the path to recovery – and eventually, forgiveness.
I love you, Kim. Hugs. I understand your feelings.
Great post, Vidya! I think that when we don’t forgive, we keep the person we haven’t forgiving alive inside us. They dig down deep into our hearts and souls and take up residence. From that vantage point, they are able to influence us, control us to some degree.
But in reality, they are doing nothing to us after the fact. It’s we who have kept them alive, fed them, housed them, clothed them in the power we offer them as we hold on to them, keeping them close, limiting our every step. Forgiving others is not a blessing we offer them. It’s a blessing we offer ourselves (or deny ourselves).
Now having said that, I don’t know if I could forgive someone who murdered my child. But this much I do know, I’ve read stories of people (after struggling for months or years) visiting the murderer in prison and offering him their forgiveness. Would I be able to do that? No idea. I won’t pretend to be able to predict the level of pain and hate that would likely consume me or for how long it would fill me.
But I do remember the story of the Amish children who were executed by (was it their mailman or tutor? Forgot.) someone. One of the parents’ first act was to go to the parents of the murderer to offer their condolences and love and forgiveness. That’s what I aspire to. I just hope I’ll never be put to the test. My heart goes out to those who have been.
Dear Ken, Thank you for the very important message about keeping the person we haven’t forgiven alive inside us. That is very true. Just like negative thoughts, they consume us – because we let them. The mere visual of this must be enough to throw them out and clean up the space with the strongest disinfectant – forgiveness.
I think many of us have a problem with “forgiveness” because it is a kind thing to do – when all we really would like to is to kick the person’s a** for what they did. Imagine hugging someone who slapped you! Responding by being nice to someone when they hurt you is so hard to accept. It seems so unfair, especially when we see ourselves as the victim.
I definitely hope that by practicing kindness we only encounter mild cases of forgiveness 🙂 I certainly wouldn’t find it easy to forgive someone who committed the kind of heinous crimes you described. Now that would be …horrible. I am amazed those people visited the offender in prison and offered forgiveness. They must be true Gods. Who wouldn’t want to be able to do that!
I too hope that we never need face such situations.
I am so happy you came by today, Ken – I am a huge fan of your insights – you know that.
Much peace and love to you. Vidya
What a wonderful post! Forgiveness seems like it’s about other people, but it really is about finding peace with ourselves. I am so appreciative that you shared this wonderful message with us! Thank you! 😉
Dear Victor, Thanks so much for your kind words. Have a superb week ahead! Love,Vidya
I stumbled upon your blog by accident. And I think it was a pleasant accident!
Forgiveness is definitely harder in action than in real. As we grow older, the human mind often forgives the not-so-hurtful events/comments/incidents naturally. The saying ‘time is a healer’ works quite well there. But for deeply hurtful incidents/comments that had affected one’s life, dignity, peace, happiness etc. are hard to forgive. Especially when we are victims of those events/comments/incidents for NO fault of ours and yet happened to us with absolutely no provocation. The reason being, in our minds hanging on to it and not forgiving the person keeps a certain grudge built up and in some ways allows you to vent your anger/frustration on that person. The anger also is towards ourselves ( though we may not realize) as we could not avoid or fight the incident at the time it occurred. Forgiving that person can feel like easily giving him/her a free pass without punishment. Continuing your anger until the person is punished and to see him/her punished is like getting closure and closure is important to the human mind to be at peace. But as time passes by we will experience and realize that not all injustice can be punished to attain closure. Forgiveness can be the next best thing! The next best tool to help ourselves.Our own peace of mind. our own sanity. To be rid of bitterness. True. By personal experience, my question here would be, what if the victim decides to forgive to give another chance, but the forgiven person does not realize the value of it and continues with the same treatment towards the victim? Then what is the next tool here? Keeping in mind the person is not someone you can easily cut off ties with?
Will wait for yours/any others response ..
Dear Maya, A very warm welcome to you!
I absolutely agree with you about the hurtful incidents, especially the ones that hurt our dignity, because I’ve gone through that. There is in fact one instance that I still find it difficult to come to terms with. I was talking to a friend who is also a coach the other day and she said that the first thing to understand is: forgiveness is for ourselves. It is not about letting the one that hurt us off the hook. This is even more relevant when they couldn’t care less. I think Ken’s comment (one of the comments to this post) is also relevant here. There are definitely instances where it seems impossible to forgive… but to me, it is more about coming to terms with those things, and moving on with life.
Re your question – I’d talk to the person to reach that “closure” if I can. If they still refuse to get on the same page with you – I’d suggest letting go. Again, it depends on your relationship with the person. Peace of mind is very important – and it is not difficult to get. Also, toxic relationships rob us of our happiness. With only one life to live, I think it is better to take the one big step rather than let yourself fester forever. 🙂 I hope you don’t mind my honesty here – I speak from experience and just wanted to share what worked.
Blessed to have you on my blog today and I hope you’ll continue to visit.
Be well. Hugs, Vidya
Vidya, thanks for this wonderful post – and I really love your takeaway points.
I am reviewing all the people in my life I haven’t forgiven yet – and am going to forgive them right now.
It’s a long list, so it my take me some time;-).
Dear Arvind, When we see forgiveness as something we’re doing for ourselves, the process takes a different perspective. I am impressed that you’re going to review your list now. I am glad you enjoyed this post – Thank you, as always, for your wonderful support. Love, Vidya
I liked the way you approached this topic. This is an excellent summary of the benefits of forgiveness! I don’t necessarily find it easy to forgive and I don’t think it can be pushed or rushed. At the same time, I know and have experienced the personal freedom that can be found in forgiveness. So I always at least start with making an active aspiration to forgive and, in time, it comes to pass. If we truly understood the nature of reality, I don’t think we would hesitate to forgive for a moment. But most of us are still on the path.
Sandra, you’ve perfectly summed up what I would have liked to say. You’re right about being on “the path”. Concepts are much easier to accept than actually taking action, since action involves many components. Again, beautifully said. 🙂 Thank you for your input. While I usually find it easy to forgive, I find it impossible to forget. Love, Vidya