The Art of Forgiveness
Forgiveness is an art. It’s an art because it requires creativity, patience, and a long-term commitment. It’s not a one and done.
It’s waking up each day recommitting to forgive. And it’s the only way to move forward.
Most humans cannot forgive and forget. If you hold this skill, you’re a select few. You see, forgetting what hurts us is not in human nature. We remember our pain. We always will.
We may remember it more or less some days. Some days we may not even remember at all. But eventually an everyday item will trigger us to glimpse back to the past, and we’ll remember.
Once we forgive, we may remember in a different light. But when the pain has been deep, it will always linger in some way, some shape, or some form.
That is why forgiveness is a commitment.
Forgiveness is an art.
Forgiveness is not over after you utter the words “I forgive you.”
Forgiveness is a process.
- It is recognizing the daily efforts the person you have forgiven is making to improve
- It is communicating areas where this improvement has not occurred
- It is not reminiscing on past mistakes
- It is dedicating yourself to not bringing up the past in moments of fury
- It is focusing on what is occurring today
Each day you do not commit to forgiveness, you are not simply remaining stagnant in your relationship, you are causing its own downfall. If the individual in front of you has committed to change, but you remain focused on who that individual was previously, even for a singular moment in time, your progress declines.
When you do not commit to forgive on a daily basis (or at least as often as the past enters your mind), you do not truly forgive at all. As a result, the future remains the same as the present.
“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.”
- Paul Boose
How to Commit
Commitment to forgiveness is not always an easy process. In fact, it rarely is.
People often say that forgiveness starts by forgetting the past. This approach is impractical. We do not forget. Forgetting is a facade.
Others say forgiveness begins by letting go of the past. While more accurate, this approach is also not feasible. You can’t un-live what happened. And truthfully, you shouldn’t. Acknowledging it is how you move forward productively. Relationships grow stronger when the past is acknowledged. You don’t want to let go of it. You want to learn from it, accept it, forgive it, and communicate more effectively following it.
You choose with what attitude you approach each moment. Every second you have a choice in how to act. Choose to act in a way that will move you forward. Together.
Deciding if Forgiveness is Worth it to You
“Forgiveness is a sign that the person who has wronged you means more to you than the wrong they have dealt.”
- Ben Greenhalgh
But if each day you focus only on the wrongs you have been dealt, your relationship will never have the opportunity to become what it once was. More importantly, it will never have the opportunity to become better than it was before the wrong occurred.
We grow by climbing mountains, not by walking plains.
Through each hurdle, what we need, desire, and thrive off becomes clearer.
That’s why as time passes we evolve as individuals and as partners. Part of forgiveness is understanding that both you and the person who has wronged you is different than you were when you met, and different than you were before and after the wrong was committed.
Remember that part of doing wrong is being human. Just as no one is immune from being wronged, no one is immune from doing wrong themselves.
Part of what helps me forgive, is to remember my own imperfections.
Remembering Your Own Humanity
When I struggle to forgive, I put myself in the shoes of the individual who has wronged me.
Sending constant reminders of the wrong creates an atmosphere which is not conducive to growth.
Imagine having done a wrong (as we all have), trying to move forward, and being faced with someone who does not see your progress.
To forgive humans, you must realize that we are all only as good as humans can be. By nature, this means we make mistakes.
As we live, we learn, and we make fewer of these. But we make them, nonetheless.
We must recognize our own imperfections. Even if they are not as visible as the wrong we so clearly remember, the only path to growth for either party is through learning from the past and making changes for the future.
Remember that the wrongs you commit onto others may be as prominent in the minds of your loved ones as the wrongs others commit on to you are in your mind. We can only understand our own mind. But that doesn’t mean our own faults aren’t present in the minds of others.
Living in the past means you will never fully move forward. And if you do not commit each day to move forward, you are, by default, stuck in the past.
Clinging to the past is clinging to pain. Committing to the future is clinging to peace.
Remember that forgiving doesn’t mean what was done to you is okay. If it were, you would not have to work so hard to forgive.
Forgiving isn’t easy. But if it’s important to you, it necessitates a day to day commitment.