Forgiveness Is a Gift, But Does It Need to Be Spoken?
Who is owed what isn’t always clear.
Today we watched one of the greatest moments of forgiveness, the likes of which I can’t recall having ever seen. Brandt Jean, the 18 year-old brother of Botham Jean, spoke forgiveness to the woman who killed his brother. Then he hugged her.
It was a beautiful act of mercy and strength, compassion and empathy. This is forgiveness in its most pure and raw state.
Still, it’s left me conflicted.
For me, forgiveness tends to be a quiet, solitary act. It often takes me a while to get there and when I do it’s from a road I’ve paved with my own soul searching that had little to do with any words or actions on the part of the forgiven.
Because of this, I question how much forgiveness needs to be spoken and how much we should just let rest. How much of the act of forgiving someone is for us and how much is for the forgiven?
I’ve forgiven a lot of trespasses but there is still some forgiveness I can’t seem to give. Oddly, this feels like my burden to carry not the person who I feel I should forgive. The weight is heavy.
We’re told that to forgive is divine. I don’t always feel divine. I sometimes feel deep, underlying hurt. I don’t have to forgive to let it go. It’s that final step I choose not to take.
I’m just cynical enough to believe that those who have hurt us or harmed us most likely don’t care much about how we feel about it. If they did, they would not have done whatever we wish to forgive them for.
When remorse steps in, it changes the landscape. It’s one thing to offer forgiveness. It’s another to seek it out.
Forgiveness is a gift. It’s greatness is second only to one thing: a heartfelt, sincere apology. One that’s truly meant with remorse and actualization.
I don’t necessarily need an apology to forgive. I’ve done it plenty of times in my life. Occasionally, we’re hurt by others and we come to understand that they don’t even fully understand their own actions to understand their effect.
Cluelessness and ignorance are never an excuse to hurt someone but it removes malice from the equation. Malice I can’t forgive.
It’s an act of kindness to speak words of forgiveness when we feel we can ease the pain of the forgiven and we want to do this.
It’s not our obligation to do this, though. We owe them nothing. It’s the hard work of those we have forgiven to come to terms with their own actions on their own as we’ve come to term with their actions on our own.
Forgiveness is for the forgiven, not the forgiver. Once we get to the point of letting go of something, we should do just that. We’ve done our part. What happens next should have no bearing on how we feel about it anymore.
Forgiving someone doesn’t make you the bigger person. It makes you an empathetic human being. It’s not a competition. No one gets to win.
So many times, both apologies and forgiveness go unspoken. Maybe that’s for the best. Revisiting pain often does nothing for either party. Perhaps we just let our moment of peace be what it is. Simple, pure, ours.