Family / Friends / Lessons / Life

FORGIVE and FORGET. OR MAYBE NOT

A few

A few days ago I found out that someone has been holding a little grudge against me. For two years.

It wasn’t something I did to ‘John’ personally, it was something I did to his extended family. One of those situations where you do (or in my case- don’t do) something. Only because you were busy or your mind was off wondering somewhere else. So now ‘John’ won’t even come to our house. The Caveman suggested that we invite them all over for a make-good meal. After thinking about it for a few days, I’ve decided against it. ‘John’ has had the time to confront me, forgive me and move on. He and his wife have made their choices, they’ve decided to remain angry and hold a grudge.

That all made me think about that old adage – forgive and forget. It’s not always easy to forgive, but it’s more difficult to forget. Forgiving means moving on. It doesn’t mean that what The Offender did was OK; it means that you’re choosing not to be an angry, hurt victim with a backpack full of grudge. It gives you the opportunity to move on with your life and hopefully The Offender will think about what they’ve done. Actually it would be better if The Offender thought about it all before and came to ask your forgiveness. You can discuss the situation, your feelings about it and then forgive and move on. If that doesn’t happen, you can make the choice of either confronting your Offender or just forgiving from a distance. I guess it’s making that decision: in the grand scheme of things how big and bad and hurtful is the offence?

Dr Everett L Worthington, in his book Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Theory and Applications, talks about the REACH system which he uses:

Recall the offence. Objectively

Empathise – try to see the situation from The Offender’s point of view

Altruistc – remember a time when you were forgiven and how that made you feel

Commit to forgiving The Offender

Hold on to the forgiveness, not the offence

I think it’s the forgetting which is the hardest part. We try to forget the situation by stuffing it in a box and mailing it to The Land of Disremember. What we should be packing up is our feelings for the situation. Pack up the hurt, resentment and anger after you’ve dealt with it and then send that off to Disremember. Remember the situation so that you yourself don’t repeat it. Remember also what it is about the person that you like or love. Why you’re friends with them. But what do we do with serial offenders. That’s a difficult one. Don’t keep them as a friend anymore? Probably, because we can choose our friends. Family? I don’t know. Confront them and risk a family feud and awkward family get-togethers? Try to get over it? Until the next time they offend you and you just end up disliking them? When it comes to family I’m really not sure. I’ll have to go back to my therapist with that one. Let’s not forget that some people are just mean, have no vocal filter and will vomit out words without a thought for other people or the possible repercussions.

Some people do forgiveness amazingly. I’m thinking of those people who go into a prison and forgive their loved ones killer. That is amazing. I’m sure they never forget the situation, but they forgive, they deal with their emotions and move on with their lives. Most of us would be beating at the prison doors calling for The Offenders head. I know I would.

The situation with ‘John’… Well I’m not supposed to know any of this. I only know because a few people let his big secret accidentally slip out of their mouths.so do I confront him? Do I boldly go over and say “so, you’re holding a grudge against me because of blah blah blah”. The risk is that he’ll take his grudge and re-label it with the names of the people who let his secret out, because I think he’s that kind of person. We all know at least one. They have to have some luggage to carry around. They like to lie in bed at night and unpack all their luggage, especially the Grudges and Offences box, and relive everything. As they drift off to sleep they plot their vengeance. So no, I don’t think I’ll approach him. I’ll behave as I always have with him. I know it does seem a bit ridiculous and that maybe I’m not listening to my own words, but I’ve done forgiveness before, with people who are more mature. I will admit that the fact that I know that ‘John’ has spent so much time thinking about me amuses me. I’ll forgive him for being an overgrown baby and I’ll smile smugly as I continue with my life.

CS Lewis said “Everyone says forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”

According to an article on WebMD, forgiveness is actually good for your health. It can lower your blood pressure, strengthen immunity, lower stress hormones and alleviate aches and pains; especially back, stomach and headaches. If for nothing else, just forgive The Offender for your health.

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