What does it take to forgive someone? To put aside your differences and settle in a path to healing and recovery?
First, I think it takes a little perspective. Taking a step back and seeing matters from all angles and not just your own. This is especially hard because true objectivity is hard to come by. But if we can manage to see the bigger picture then maybe we will be able to empathize or even put the situation in a context that gives it new meaning.
Second, it takes putting aside ones ego. As I have said before, the 21st century is an era of the Ego. The individual is king in our era. This idea can sometimes be problematic. Not only does it lead to selfishness but it can also become an impasse to achieving forgiveness that is restorative and healing.
But when we have been hurt by someone. It is hard not to want to hurt them back. Or to hold resentment towards them. I do not feel that we should forgive and forget. I believe we should forgive and remember. But remember in order to be better. Remember in order to see the person for who they were in that particular situation. We remember because remembering is a way to prepare for the future. A way to bend time to our own advantage and seek out better choices for our lives in the future.
It is in remembering the past hurts and transgressions that we have the opportunity to become better people.
Quite often in the heat of passion it can be hard to see clearly. And that's okay. Forgiveness does not happen over night. Like healing from any trauma, forgiveness takes time. There will be setbacks and there will be times of anger and resentment but we must keep our eyes on the goal.
And what is the goal or point of forgiveness?
We forgive people not for them. But for ourselves. Malachy McCourt said that resentment is like drinking posion and expecting the other person to die.
When we do not forgive we can hold onto energy that can change us into bitter people. Forgiveness is about letting go. And often in our modern age it is the act of letting go that needs to be practiced above all.
So reach past your ego, past your pain, past your own subjective experience and grab hold of that sliver of forgiveness. Maybe for yourself. Maybe for your lover or your friend. If life's obstacles breaks relationships down then forgiveness is the tool to reshape those broken relationships into tools that can teach us to be better, more circumspect people in society.