I’ve been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. It’s been a theme in my life for the past two years, and I figured that it was time for me to share my opinions on it on the 31:25 blog.
So, the dictionary defines forgiveness as “to stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake”. It’s something that we learn about at a very young age, ex. ‘Don’t hit your brother! Say that you’re sorry and ask for his forgiveness’ (not that that EVER happened in my childhood…)! But here’s the thing: forgiveness becomes much more abstract as we get older.
This discrepancy truly came into my life when someone truly did me wrong. I spent the better part of 2017 boiling in anger, frustration, and resentment. I didn’t understand why they thought that they could do the things that they did, why they thought it was ok to hurt me and my emotions.
And then I realized a few things: I’d probably never find out, and it didn’t matter. The reasoning behind the choices of others isn’t something that we can control. The only thing that we can control is our reaction to the things that happen to us, so I had to forgive. And I did. I no longer hold these things against the person; it doesn’t hurt that much anymore.
Here’s where I point out my disgust for the phrase “forgive and forget”: it implies that, when you forgive someone, your relationship with them goes right back to where it had been. This is not only a horrible idea, it promotes unhealthy relationships. Allow me to explain…
To protect yourself after a physical injury, you try to avoid doing the thing that gave you said injury, such as touching a hot stovetop as a child. You don’t stop cooking with the stove, but you don’t touch the stovetop itself anymore. The same thing, in my opinion, goes for relationships. You generally keep the relationship, if what the person did hasn’t destroyed it, but that doesn’t mean that you should be a doormat if the pattern is repetitive.
That being said, we all make mistakes. Normal fighting and issues are, well, normal, and happen in relationships of all categories. However, the danger comes into play when the behaviors continue or are in a pattern. These sorts of operations are dangerous to you, and you need to keep yourself safe if you find yourself forgiving a person but continuing to allow them to treat you without the respect that you deserve.
Forgiving someone, and I cannot stress this enough, is NOT the same thing as letting them hurt you again. You can, and should, forgive someone without putting yourself in a position where they can continue to step on you and hurt you if their behavior is recurrent. Getting out of this situation and protecting yourself is called self-care, love. And everyone deserves to be treated with respect and care.