2008-07-06

Forgiving

A definition of to forgive is, according to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to cease to feel resentment against (an offender). People usually say great things about forgiveness. The truth is Even if you change, the other person may not. Each person has free will, what makes forgiveness also an act of free will.

We usually think a lot about forgiveness before something that demands our forgiveness really happens. At least, that was my case. In theory, it seems easy and perfect. Then, one day, someone you love very much does something humiliating to another one you love very much. You’re not there at the moment, so there was nothing you could do. In your head, a hammer: “How could he do that? How could he ever do something like that to her?”

In theory, you should sit beside him and talk. Ask why, tell how you feel. But you decide you’d better not. It’s their business, not yours. What if the humiliated person feels even worse when she finds out you broke the secret and looked for, how to say, the humiliator? What if the humiliator gets mad at the person who told you the story? There’s no way. You’d better leave it like that. It doesn’t sound right, but when it comes to strategy and pragmatism, letting it be may count as an option. You understand the humiliator’s reasons and you believe he’ll not behave that way again. You understand but you do not agree. There comes resentment. You will never be able to look at that person the way you used to look. In your head and heart, outrageous thoughts and feelings persist: “How could he do that? How?”

He keeps emailing you regularly; after all, he doesn’t even know you were informed of that fact. His .pps files of friendship, love and faith are deliberately ignored. “It’ll never be the same”, you regret. He keeps greeting you effusively as you meet. Keeps recalling stories of your childhood, of a time he was like an older brother, like a second father to you. The nicknames you made up for each other, the trips to the beach and to the mountains… and all you do is curse him mentally: “You broke it all up.” Now you only have room to criticize his opinions, his political views, his way of life. You even wonder how you could ever like him.

One night, without noticing, you don’t delete one of his emails. Distracted, you catch yourself thinking of him the way you used to: as a dear friend, as a close relative, as someone important to your story, to your life. The memory of that incident comes to your mind, but you wipe it away. “No one is perfect,” you admit. And, even if you’re far from agreeing with what he did, you feel it’s time to forgiveness.

It’s a silent act, as silent as the breakup. You feel lighter and happier. It’s like meeting an old friend that traveled miles away years ago and whom you didn’t expect to come back. You realize that resentment is a punishment that did not bring any benefits. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a gift you give to no one but yourself. And it feels easy and perfect. This time, not only in theory.

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