Many people offend us or hurt us in different ways, all through our life. Some of them apologize for this, some don’t even realize that they have hurt us need to apologize. But, how many times do we forgive people wholeheartedly? I do not mean saying the words, “It’s alright” or “All is forgiven”. I mean how many times do we accept their apology and move forward? I’m guessing it is not many times.
My intent is not to say that we are not forgiving people by nature. In fact, we want to forgive them. But our conscience cannot allow us to forgive them. What could be the reason for this?
Many people say sorry without meaning it. They apologize now but, repeat the same mistake again. Some people make light of their error by joking about the situation. By doing this they are belittling our emotions. In some cases, people apologize and hold a grudge in their heart. They start distancing themselves from us and avoid interactions. All the above actions indicate that the person is not really repentant. Should we forgive a person who is not repentant? I believe we shouldn’t.
I am sure most of you are thinking of the saying, ‘To err is human, but to forgive is divine’. That saying might be true. However, I also believe in ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’. I love the second saying. What about you my friends? What is your opinion on this?
‘To err is honest and to forgive is divine’. This has been constantly and consistently drilled into our subconscious. We have been taught to be forgiving people; Although it is a different thing that we do not always forgive.
The saying basically tells us that we all make mistakes, but only a great and wise soul can forgive. It encourages us to look beyond the mistake and see the true worth of a person. I agree with that part of this teaching. We need to look beyond the action and try to see the true reason for the error; however, it is truly difficult to forgive someone for any transgression. It can be a simple lie or forgetting something that is important to us or using our things without permission or disregarding our feelings with their actions etc. Most of the time, it is simple things like these that we tend to forgive.
The more serious actions like a betrayal of trust, showing a lack of integrity, blatant disrespect for boundaries and law etc. are some instances when forgiveness should not come by easily. This type of behaviour indicates a deeper flaw in character. When a person leaks out a secret, throw a friend under the bus to save his skin, tries to enforce their own will on others by any means possible etc. it indicates a deeper psychological problem. Forgiving such a person who lacks loyalty and integrity or a person who doesn’t respect boundaries and authority could imply that we find nothing wrong with such behaviour. It shows that we ourselves belong to the same character and personality type. By forgiving these people, we end up insulting our character.
A person should always think twice before forgiving anyone since we also need to ensure that the transgressor learns his or her lesson. In today’s world, we see many instances where bad behaviour and bad attitude is forgiven in the name of ‘Free Speech’ and ‘Freedom of Expression’. Repentance for one’s mistakes, errors or wrongdoings should be paramount. Only with repentance can we be sure that a similar situation does not arise.
Take time out to think back at instances when we faced such dilemmas. Think back if it was really helpful to forgive such people. Write back to me if you want to share any instances, I will gladly add them to this post.