1. To excuse for a fault or an offense; pardon.
2. To renounce anger or resentment against.
For me, forgiveness is much greater than these two meanings but they're certainly a good place to start. I've struggled with forgiveness my whole life. I truly believe it is a skill that needs to be learnt, it doesn't come naturally.
The type of forgiveness I grew up learning was one where we acted as though forgiveness had taken place but instead the anger, towards the person who wronged us, would reside and eat away at us, only to be brought back in the next argument. Conflict was never resolved, the resentment stayed and I was never able to move on. Resentment, grudges and anger weighs down on us if we are unable to find genuine compassion towards the person who wronged us. It hurts even more when it's a person we still want in our lives, someone we love, that friend we really care for.
It was only till I was in my early twenties, studying my Social Science degree, did my thinking and attitude towards forgiveness, change. For a term we studied 'conflict resolution'. All we spoke about was conflict. Some who were decades older than me often talked more about their conflicts decades before and in detail. The same anger still lingered when they described it and often they would realise they had not really forgiven in that situation, therefore unable to move on.
So we set out about journalling our conflicts. And in a mere 12 weeks I had filled an A4 book of all the conflicts I had come to encounter. In my work, in friends, at the shops, family, bills everything! There is conflict everywhere. But my attitude towards dealing with conflict would make all the difference.
Since that term, I have been a work in progress when it comes to forgiving. I have had to become open-minded. I've been on both ends of forgiveness, where I have asked to be forgiven and be heard and where forgiveness has been asked of me.
My approach to forgiveness has now enabled me to have better relationships with my closest friends, my sister, my parents, in my work, in all areas of my life. The type of forgiveness where we hear each other, take ownership of our wrong doing, recognise the hurt, and move forward and really leaving that conflict IN THE PAST and not bringing it up again. It's NOT an easy task.
I recognise that there are some people who do wrong and truly cannot be forgiven. People who take you to deep and dark places that no one, no child or adult should every have to experience in their lifetime. Victims of heinous acts, in my view, should be allowed to not forgive in order to be at peace with the soul, if that's what they wish to do.
For Thankful Thursday that is being hosted by Leigh over at Six by the bay, I am thankful that I am now able to forgive, especially when I feel that I am in the thick of it all. After an argument with my partner, who I love deeply, after we throw around words so hurtful we question why we are even together at all? I am grateful we can speak of what is really the problem, really talk about how that affects us, take ownership and then take our time in forgiving so that we make sure we don't sweep things under the rug that need to be addressed and to avoid bringing it up in the future. It's hard and it takes a lot of practice and pride needs to be pushed aside if we want to move forward. It is an incredible relief when it does happen and allows us to move on to the next day, a new page, and brings us closer.
This year is a big year for our family, we have a lot of challenges ahead of us and a lot of goals we want to achieve in order to have a better future for our children. Patience and forgiveness are going to play a huge role in our relationship, but I'm sure we will come out on top and hopefully as a united front.
When the shit hits the fan, I can only hope for a day of atonement, so that the peace is restored and we can move forward without having the past eat away at us.
That is what I am thankful for this Thursday.