Original Link : https://byrslf.co/why-we-must-forgive-853be66b12a
When I was in high school, I found out a close friend of mine was talking negatively about me behind my back. It hurt so much because we were both leaders of an extracurricular organization, and I put so much trust in him. When I confronted him about it, he feigned he had no memory of what he had done, despite the evidence of what multiple people had told me. Needless to say, we had a falling out, and I couldn’t forgive him because he never apologized.
When I got to college freshmen year, I still felt hurt by the falling out I had with my close friend. I became determined to make new, close friendships. I bonded well with my roommates and at the beginning of the second semester, we agreed to room together sophomore year. That semester, I became super busy: taking extra classes, working a 10–15 hr/week job, and doing a bunch of extracurricular activities. I rarely was in the dorm except to sleep. I became more distant from my roommates, but we never fought so I thought all was well.
However, on the night before rooming forms were due for our upperclassmen houses, they told me they didn’t want to room with me anymore. I had no time to find other roommates. I felt devastated, not by the bad housing situation, but that the people who I thought I was closest too pushed me away and rejected me. I never felt so lonely in my life. And the hurt got amplified because of the falling out I had in high school with my friend. I began to doubt and question myself. I began hating who I was and my ability to form close bonds with others. My confidence plummeted. My grades began to drop as I developed feelings of worthlessness. This event colored and influenced the rest of my undergraduate experience.
I waited for a long time for them to apologize, but they never did. I ended up confronting each of them individually about how I felt, but they merely just listened, without sincerely apologizing or saying anything.
To this day, I do not think my freshmen year roommates know how much their actions have hurt and impacted me, even after I confronted them. How could they? They didn’t even bother to apologize. And just like my high school friend experience, although I had the courage to confront them about what they did, I still couldn’t forgive them.
Looking back, one of the worst mistakes I made in college was not forgiving. At the time, I didn’t realize forgiveness and moving on were tied together. I thought I could not forgive and still move-on. I was wrong. The resentment never goes away. And it was devastating for my development and growth. It took me years to finally realize the power of forgiveness and how free I felt when I finally forgave.
It’s hard to forgive. Forgiveness feels like losing. Like the other person got “off the hook”. Forgiveness is even harder when the other party never apologizes. Never owns up to the hurt they caused you. And it hurts so much. As if you’re not even worth it for them to feel remorseful, to feel sorry enough for them to have the courage to own up to what they did and sincerely apologize to you.
Often when we forgive, we seek closure. But the flaw is that the closure that we seek is dependent on the other person to admit they hurt you and were wrong to do so. But sometimes life doesn’t work like that. And humans are humans. They have flaws. Often, they are not mature or don’t have the courage to apologize, and they probably never will.
The point of forgiveness isn’t to wait until they apologize. The point of forgiveness is for you to move on, with or without an apology. You move on because there are more exciting things to use your time, talents, and energy on. You move on because life is beautiful and glorious. You move on because you deserve better than to be chained by resentment and bitterness.
Continuing to hate, to hold onto bitterness, is like drinking poison but expecting the other person to suffer. The moment you forgive, life becomes so much better, so much easier. Your whole body feels lighter. And as time passes, the hurt becomes a distant memory. We don’t talk about forgiveness enough in society. But it is so, so important.
One thing I realized in the past few years is that human beings are not “good” or “bad”, “mean” or “kind”, they’re just human beings. They can be super shitty to one person but really kind to another. And because of human beings’ fickle nature, it can be painful when the person they hurt just so happens to be you. You feel angry that you weren’t able to get treated nicely, but others were. You start questioning yourself and blaming yourself for not being “worthy” of better treatment. And forgiveness feels like you are exonerating them of their guilt. But that’s not true.
Forgiveness is exonerating yourself from the hurt that is holding you back.
To forgive does not mean to forget. You can forgive the person for their actions, but not forget what they did, to make sure you won’t fall for it again. Forgiveness allows us to move on, but not forgetting allows us to learn. We can re-assess our lives, learn from our mistakes, see what we can improve, evaluate how we matured, and become better people from it. Forgiveness doesn’t mean we pretend it didn’t happen. I don’t pretend I’m still friends with the people who hurt me, but I will be cordial to them if I happen to bump into them. However, I will never let them into my inner circle of friends, because they are not to be trusted. I think of them only as minor characters in the story of my life, and how my experiences with them allowed me to become a better, more mature person.
What did I learn from my experiences? I stopped intensively focusing on resume-building. I became a more compassionate person. I spend a lot more quality time with people. I make sure to reach out and catch up with my closest friends and family, never letting distance or work get in the way of our relationship. I became better at recognizing kind, sincere people. Most importantly, I learned to forgive myself: for both my actions during freshmen year and my inability to forgive for the longest time. I am only human. My freshmen year roommates are only human. Humans make mistakes. But we also learn, grow, and overcome.
Because of what I have learned from my experiences, I feel like the friendships I have are very meaningful. I have several people I can tell anything to, and I am truly grateful for that. And it wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t forced to deal with my insecurities head-on. I’m a much stronger, maturer, and more compassionate person because of these experiences.
Forgiveness is one of the hardest things to do when we’ve been hurt or betrayed. But we have to trust ourselves and have the maturity to accept and understand the importance of forgiveness.
Only then can we be free.