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  • As I recently listened to an acquaintance talk about her ex boyfriend, the cruel things he'd said upon their breaking up, what a miserable attitude he has, how much he'd hurt her and so on and so forth, we came to the most amazing part of the conversation, the part where she said that she "forgave" him because he was just, well, an unfeeling ignorant person, not worthy of a second thought. It was this conversation that got me to thinking about the idea of forgiveness and how we apply it in our lives.

    Forgiveness, used in this application, is a concept carefully and almost always, as in my acquaintance's case, angrily placed on top of judgment. It is the metaphoric equivalent of placing a lamp on the elephant in the room and hoping the pacoderm will pass for a side table.

    But one must, eventually, deal with the elephant.

    Now, there is some work involved in this-- some painful soul searching is necessary, a deep digging quest to arrive at the truth of things. This is why faux forgiveness is so popular. It's easier, and we can hold on to our grudge as long as we don't flaunt it. Trouble is, forgiving on the surface and holding that internal anger eats us up inside. It takes a lot of our precious energy to keep it alive.

    At a deeper level, true forgiveness can arise when we are brutally honest about our participation in a relationship gone wrong, when a true understanding of contributing human frailities and the dynamics of human exchange give rise to heartfelt compassion for the human condition. At this level, forgiveness serves not only to dissipate the original judgment, it can transform life entirely.

    Worth the work it takes to get there, I'd say.

    (image credit: Paul Sableman, flickr commons)
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