Friday, 5 April 2013

Negative smoke by Dan Barak
What does the concept of forgiveness mean to you?

Does it have negative connotations?  A certain feeling of passe redundancy?  Something imposed from outside, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense on the inside?  Perhaps, if you grew up in a self-named Christian culture, that word reminds you of stuffy Sunday mornings, preached from the front of an organisation which did not practice that preaching itself.  Or does it have other connotations for you, maybe more positive ones than the ones I have listed above?  Maybe you have experienced that strange duality that comes when you find yourself in a space where you wish to forgive but you do not wish to forget.  After all, "forgive and forget" are now cliched bedfellows.  That term is so cliched that it's virtually meaningless these days.  And I wonder if it hasn't given forgiveness a bad name - giving the idea that forgiving should be equated with letting people walk all over you.

Maybe that ridiculous forgiving = forgetting idea sprang out of the fact that there is a certain weakness in forgiving.  It certainly feels weak.  But out of the other side of weakness, forgiveness bestows strength.

What comes into your mind, whether words or images, when you think of the field of forgiveness?  I would love to know your thoughts if you feel like you would like to share.

Today, for me at least, forgiveness is all about quenching that irascible child that lives on the inside.  Ill-formed and barely formed, she rails with the rage of the baby or the toddler that she was, demanding the needs that she needed to be met to survive.

Forgiving what happened on the outside is to set me free, to set her free, to become whatever it was she was meant to be but was denied.

Forgiveness does not feel like it's something that is contained inside stuffy walls.  It's far too dangerous for that.  Forgiveness needs large-sized fields that belong to Rumi.  It is strength with power-punch, hidden inside apparent weakness.  Forgiveness is spider-web tough.  It is soul retrieval, bringing new sight to a door we could not see so clearly before.  It is freedom and forward movement and very, very wise.


  1. Honestly? I hate forgiveness. It feels like saying something is OK, when it's not ok, and may never be ok. I hate feeling like I have to let go of something that's left an indelible mark on my soul. But then, what's that old proverb about how hating doesn't ever hurt the other person? Yeah, that. It's not worth the grip required to hang on to. (But I still feel robbed of something when I forgive.)

    1. I love the honesty of this comment :)

      It does feel like that, doesn't it, as if by forgiving we're condoning something. And when you look at that indelible mark on your soul, what would be more evil than perpetuating the damage, going along with it? It's like you're giving mental assent to this thing happening to other people and to yourself again. How or why would you do that if you have your faculties about you and aren't in some sort of a cult? Sometimes what forgiveness feels like is being asked to go back to sleep, to push down whatever anger or boundary-setting desires you had in the first place and which are often suppressed, if the mark goes deep and we don't have the support of our culture to stand up for ourselves. As if it's not hard enough to stay awake as it is.

      I have to keep reminding myself over and over again that forgiveness isn't about *that*. It's just that it lives next door to it, so I keep getting it mixed up in my own head and soul. I have to keep reminding myself that forgiveness is more about letting go of the binding that exists between us and that thing, the bit that makes it keep cutting into our skin. So it's not ignoring the marks that are already there, but it's helping to prevent them from going any deeper.

      Because yeah, forgiving is certainly not about forgetting. And you can say no and stand your ground and be forgiving someone all at the same time, mereckons.

  2. I think forgiveness is an ongoing process, I don't believe it is something that can be done once and forgotten. Well, I'm sure it can be done once in many small cases -- my son dropped a new dish the other day and it broke. I didn't even have to contemplate forgiveness. But the things that are really important, when someone has deeply wounded us, I think we have to choose to forgive many times over before it will "take". There are a few things that I have been forgiving for 25 or 19 or 8 years, and it still hurts every time.

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