Someone from my recent past popped up unexpectedly and I have been called upon to make a decision as to whether or not I will forgive him. Needless to say we did not leave things off in a good way. This situation has got me thinking a lot about forgiveness. Usually the decision is clear. If you abhor the person in the pit of your stomach and cannot stand to look them in the eye, then clearly forgiveness isn’t something they deserve. On the other hand, if you are excited to see them again, and despite whatever indiscretion, you remain happy to be around them, then perhaps forgiveness should be included in your future plans. However, what do you do when you have no idea how you feel about the person?
I’ve been working hard on processing my feelings thoroughly lately, rather than burying them until they boil to the surface in an extreme overreaction to something minor. Thus when the indiscretion happened, I was very hurt, I paused, processed, but then I moved on. I apparently moved on so well, that when said person came back three months later with an apology, I felt nothing. I’m not hurt any longer, but I’m also not sure if I’m excited to bring them back into my life. Essentially, unlike any other time in my life, the shallow emotions that tend to crowd my decision-making were not present. I was not embarrassed, hurt, uncomfortable, lonely, sad, anything really, when I met up with him again. I was completely and totally neutral.
You would think that this divorce from surface emotions would make things easier to deal with. I always assumed that if I could control my “knee jerk reactions”, that everything would be so much clearer and logic would just kick in and deal with the issue at hand. This isn’t the case here. Instead, other considerations come into play. I began to wonder what the ramifications would be if I forgave this person. Am I disrespecting myself by giving him forgiveness when he was incredibly rude? What message am I sending about the value that I have for myself with this decision? Is the fact that I’m even considering forgiveness a sign of weakness? Is it even possible to forget what he did after having forgiven him?
Essentially, I don’t think that forgiving him is the worst idea in the world. However, this situation forced me to face a part of my personality that I wasn’t sure I could handle yet. After having left law school, my self-confidence was shattered, and I’ve been attempting to raise it ever since. Slowly, after making life commitments to being healthy and happy, I’ve begun to grow the seed of inner peace. I’ve found that this peace has allowed me to revel in this moment. As awkward and uncomfortable as it is to live in limbo about whether or not to forgive this person, I can’t help but smile. This situation has tested my resolve to love myself, and I’ve come out happily victorious. Regardless of what I decide, I know that I’ll be completely fine, and that security is something that I haven’t felt in a long time. I must admit, it is a sweet, sweet feeling. So perhaps forgiveness is about the toll it takes from you personally. I suppose that we should always try to be forgiving people, but maybe we should only do so if the cost to our own self-worth is minimal. Perhaps that is why some of the happiest people are also the most forgiving. Their decision to forgive is not tied to their understanding of their self-worth and thus deciding to forgive another doesn’t affect their perception of themselves.