Forgiveness was in the news a couple of months ago. It seems that Taylor Swift has forgiven Kanye West for interrupting her acceptance speech at the Grammy’s last year. You were unaware of this news? I certainly was until the op ed pieces started coming out commenting on this news event. Commentators discussed whether they thought it was a magnanimous gesture or whether it was deserved as well as several thoughts on forgiveness in general. Forgiveness can be a sensitive issue for people. It is fraught with emotion and involves letting go.
Apologies, forgiveness… we have all had to grapple with circumstances where it was too hard to forgive or we are unable to let go of a slight, hurt, or situation that was too devastating to let pass. In some cases, these go back in time and have festered making it even more difficult to find it within ourselves to overcome our harsh feelings.
How often do we say we’re sorry without meaning it or resist saying we’re sorry at all? How often have we rejected an apology because we were unable to forgive?
Most of us learn about forgiveness growing up. What our families teach us or what we learn through our religious training may shape how we are able to process these feelings later on. As with all learned behavior, we learn from example, either good ones or bad.
The Jewish High Holidays are called the Days of Atonement. During this time Jews are asked to reflect on those they have wronged during the year and extend apologies but with specific guidelines for how those apologies are given. It’s not enough to just say a general ‘I’m sorry’. People are asked to think about how they have specifically wronged someone and apologize and seek forgiveness for that action or those particular words that hurt or offended another person.
Apologies are always expected from children but are parents offering apologies to children for behavior that they later regret or realize was inappropriate or hurtful? It is worth considering that children see what is patterned for them by their parents. Learning how to extend a sincere apology and learning forgiveness can help people get past a hurdle that allows them to move on. Maybe we cannot always forget some slights or hurt, but we may be able to forgive the person and not let it burden our lives as we get older and enable us to leave the lines of communication open.