Is Forgiveness a Sign of Weakness
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize that prisoner was you.” Lewis B. Smedes
“Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.”
‘Forgiveness is not forgetting an injustice done; It is the understanding that allows us to set aside the emotional impact of that injustice pertaining to ourselves. When we no longer hold those emotions, and have the understanding for the person, we have forgiven them.” Moon Singer
We sometimes like to believe that any kind of backing down is a sign of weakness. I suppose forgiving another could be looked at in this way also. One who gives up on an argument is assumed to be in the wrong and recognizing that fact. One who walks away from a fight is considered afraid and weak. Those people who place their bet on these people who walked away are usually left believing they trusted in the wrong individual.
Having walked away from a situation years ago left me with mixed feelings. On the one side of the issue I believed I let some people down who had faith in my abilities. On the other side of the issue I was so deeply wounded that all I could think about was running away. It was never out of fear but sadness in the knowledge that those I had cared about and trusted had deserted me. Of course it becomes more difficult when others hurt us behind our backs.
I am aware of how quickly people side with one person on one day only to change their allegiance the next day. I would not want to be the newcomer attempting to merge into an established group or relationship. It renders us to be tolerant and accepting of others even if we don’t agree with them. That is life and our opinions do reflect the various opinions of other people yet we don’t identify with anyone’s opinions completely.
With huge hours of reflection I came to the understanding that on every level and every day we tend to agree or disagree with others randomly. Perhaps we are looking for friends or in the process of switching friends. Maybe we want something someone else can provide or do for us or maybe we succeed in moving up the ladder with our choices. Perhaps agreeing with some people places us on the winning side of the argument. Whatever our reasons we do tend to change our minds often and I wonder if that is more of a sign of weakness than walking away.
If we fear standing alone we won’t stand for anything worthwhile. If we need another’s approval we will never embrace anything new. If we must always be correct then we will never acknowledge another worthy thought opinion or action. The fear of making waves at work, amongst friends or within the family is stressful. Even some family members hold more power than others. Perhaps at times we agree with a powerless family member yet we don’t offer any vocal outward support because the opposing view is held by a more powerful family member. It appears to be to our advantage to simply remain quiet.
None of us including myself have ever considered this weak. Just getting along with others is problematic unless we are the person setting the rules and trends. Friends at times must downplay the good time they experienced with a third-party because they will hurt our feelings. It seems to me that just about everyone exhibits signs of weakness every day which have nothing to do with forgiveness.
I’m wondering if our low self-esteem is holding us down. Our confidence in us is perhaps missing or at least lacking. We worry and stress about our every interaction with another person. We trust in someone else’s ideas. We believe we are not smart enough to voice our opinion. Our stamina power or control appears to be in need. All we can have faith in is that others would laugh us out of the room if we attempted a differing viewpoint. How ludicrous and sad are these thoughts.
We are just so capable in insurmountable ways but we never focus on our attributes. We only notice the attributes of others while observing our own shortcomings. Of course if we all measure what other people have deemed as good and worthy values then so much of our worth is not even perceived or considered even in our own judgements. I had a cousin who never spoke an unkind word about anyone. If others were gossiping behind someone’s back he rolled his eyes and smiled. He wasn’t as much fun to talk to because he never had a wild story to tell about anyone. Being a lot younger, not that it excuses me, I spent more time listening to the gossips. Now I am so aware of his awesome qualities and regret not having spoken more with him. He had a different slant on life and living and he never held a grudge.
I mention him now because he was loved by everyone in the family and nobody spoke ill of him yet no one ever sought him out first. I can only surmise that everyone was attempting to find the dirt on everyone else. In the process we all got headaches from the anxiety and stress of constantly attempting to explain words and actions. No wonder in the end people hide so much. I think we all want to get along with others while having as little grief as possible. Maybe that is even why we agree with the people we are with in order to save a confrontation.
Honestly I believe that speaking the truth at all times and voicing an opinion without fear is probably the best way to live. It doesn’t mean we are forcing our ideas on others only giving our own voice to the problem. Truth is denied stretched bent hidden and lost in translation. People discover they are guilty of ideas they never embraced. In the end most people determine it is easier to let it all go than to try to fix it with more words or actions.
The fear of truth and silence causes a dilemma for many. We would rather rehash false beliefs and actions. It leaves us desiring forgiveness or in a position of doubting the extender of forgiveness. When someone receives forgiveness they are filled with joy and anxious to face a new day. They are happy to wipe a slate clean and begin again. They are renewed and as bright as the dawning of daylight. Such an awesome occurrence yet not often seen or done. Forgiveness is extremely difficult and anything but a sign of weakness. I would say it is perhaps something that is next to impossible depending on the incident.
The person who must forgive is tired, weary confused unsure and wounded deeply. Nobody thinks about the depth of the cut and pain. We all want to go back to life as usual and we do just that as soon as another forgives us. I know it is not that easy nor that simple. I also know that it is without any doubt the best way to behave. I suppose it is never up to us to decide if the person requesting or needing the forgiveness is actually sorry. All we can do is hope and have faith that they are remorseful.
I remember people saying sure you can forgive someone that is easy but forgetting is another thing. I agree with that statement only to a point. If we are reaching the point of wanting to forgive another then we must think about how much we are able to forget. Now it is on our shoulders to find it in our hearts to release the pain. It is the ache of the happening that keeps us chained to the event. In a way when we can forgive we are found to have more freedom and release from the pent-up tension. The seeker in need of the absolution also finds peace.
How strange it is to have such power to actually improve the happiness in another person’s life with the simple words of compassion for the transgressor. To forgive takes so much courage. To forget can be accomplished only by those who are braver and stronger than the strongest metal. Most of us pride ourselves in our courage to handle problems yet we can’t forgive a family member or parent, spouse, sibling, cousin or friend. If we do extend the mercy we go back on it when we recall it during a new argument or disagreement. That is why forgiveness is superhuman. It takes every power within us to extend it when we understand and appreciate the consequences of the action. It also gives us so much love and serenity when it is done. We might wonder why we hesitated.
Most people never plan on hurting others. We likely never plan on being deceitful. It occurs when we are anxious about our own wants and needs. When we come to realize that we are sorry, we become anxious to have it forgiven. When we are the person in need of absolving another it is so painfully difficult. In both cases we are in need of releasing the burdens immediately. Forgiveness is only used by the strong. You must be made of iron in order to hold in the bursting pain while bestowing compassion and pardon to another. Without a doubt it is not for the weak.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this we are less prone to hate our enemies.” Martin Luther King Jr.
“To err is human; To forgive divine.” Alexander Pope
“Forgiveness is the final form of love.” Reinhold Niebuhr
Originally published at pamreynolds.me on January 14, 2016.