theCriticalThought.com May 2017          Tom Ersin, Managing Editor
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The Thinker

Forgiveness 101


... and other easy things



Forgiveness [is] a process of letting go and overlooking whatever … other people may have done to us. This means we are unconcerned with … whether someone we think mistreated us will get what he deserves (Jampolsky, 1979).

Now, how do mortals do it? That method only works for saints. Right? I currently struggle with the forgiveness concept. I was wronged (join the club); and there have been no apologies or acknowledgements. In fact, the wrongs and the rationalizations continue to live — two doors down from the poor-me family. Most of you are saying, "Welcome to my world." I say, "No. Wait. My situation is unique." You, my audience, repeat: "WTMW."

In a reversal of my normal ruminations, I know intellectually that to forgive the wrongdoers would make me feel better. Emotionally, however, it seems counterintuitive. For their own good, I have been devising methods that would allow them to see the errors of their ways. I’m simply trying to help them, right?

Unfortunately, the self-justifications run so deep that some people have to look up just to see down — and then there’s the guilty parties. One small step in my recovery is that I have stopped (or at least, minimized) trying to figure ways to force reality on them. You know that old saying: You can lead a horse to the pool of rational truth, but you can’t make him see that he has been previously manipulated away from it out of fraudulent motives — or drink.

My situation is not unique, money being at the heart of the matter and all. We often hear horror stories about borrowed funds splitting friendships apart. But we don’t think it could ever happen in our friendships. Ten, 20, 30 years we might have known this person. Money, even big green dollar signs, could not change his heart — could it? Ultimately, it’s not just about the money. It’s also the emotional damage inflicted in the course of their cover-up: I’m now painted as the bad guy. But they hurt my feelings. And the audience chimes in again: "WTMW: Welcome to my world."

Don HenleySo my struggle for peace of mind through forgiveness continues. Every spiritual prophet from before Jesus Christ to beyond Don Henley has extolled the virtues of forgiveness. Oh, and forgiveness is not for the bad guy, the one who wronged us. It’s for our own benefit. But it sure feels like it’s for him. In my unenlightened mind, I’m letting the villain off the hook. If I declare a mistrial in my mental courtroom before the truth is fully aired and spiritual sentences are handed down, the terrorists win.

But here’s the problem: This trial in my mind never ends. It is an endless loop of testimony and confession. In my fantasy, the defendant keeps admitting his crimes, as well as his cover-up and manipulation of his followers. But the courtroom is empty. No one is listening. And the next thing I know, years have gone by, enormous amounts of mental energy have been sapped from my being, and no one has paid a price except me — poor, pitiful me. Audience? "WTMW."

Forgiveness: We are unconcerned whether someone will get what he deserves.

Forgiveness: We are unconcerned whether someone will get what he deserves.

Forgiveness: We are unconcerned whether someone will get what he deserves.

Forgiveness: We are unconcerned whether someone will get what he deserves.

Forgiveness: We are unconcerned whether someone will get what he deserves

(Jampolsky, 1979).


This is hard. ■



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Gift of forgiveness

 

"Forgiveness is a process of letting go and overlooking whatever other people may have done to us. This means we are unconcerned with whether someone we think mistreated us will get what he deserves."
(Jampolsky, 1979)

 

Hawaiian symbol for forgiveness

 

Every spiritual prophet from before Jesus Christ to beyond Don Henley has extolled the virtues of forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the one who wronged us. But it sure feels like it's for him. In my unenlightened mind, I'm letting the villain off the hook. If I declare a mistrial in my mental courtroom before the truth is fully aired and spiritual sentences are handed down, the terrorists win.

 

Forgiveness

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