I have wrestled with this word and my own relationship to including ‘forgiveness’ in my vocabulary over the years. This mainly stems from the too often religious use of the word and in my opinion people’s quick desire to ask for or give ‘forgiveness’ without any deeper reflection. It may also stem from years of being told I needed to ‘forgive’ some things that frankly I was not yet able to deal with on that level. Eventually I got I was causing my own pain with my walled position on the matter.
These day I am more curious and less ‘righteous’ about the word. First when I play with forgive or forgiving, I break it down to for and give. For meaning in support of or affecting – I think of ‘in support of giving’ – makes the word much more interesting. Even more so with affecting; affecting giving. Suddenly I can see that that forgiveness might just be speaking to what separates me from ‘giving’ freely. Now that makes a significant difference in how I can relate to this word.
I have always liked Covey’s habit – ‘Seek first to understand’. However I believe that to really do that I need to be in the space to give the other person room to be different from me, to give them the benefit of doubt, in other words to be ‘giving’ not just neutral or worse reactive but to be willing ‘ to hand over’. This is a very vulnerable and open position to take – yet lies at the root of what to give means. This is what I have started to think of in relationship to what forgiveness means to me.
Of course this totally applies to my own life events. I think I believed forgiveness was something I was doing for someone else but really it was all about doing something for me. When I am ‘forgiving’ I am being in support of my ‘giving’ or ‘handing over’; opening a door or path that without ‘forgiveness’ remains blocked, closed or worse unaffected by what is happening around me.
I was told the opposite of forgiveness energetically is estrangement. Now this is a word filled with separation, distance, even hostility – just to mention a few associated words. That makes it even more important in my world to stay open to the energetic definition of ‘forgiveness’. I have spent too much of my life ‘estranged’ – treating others as strangers – instead of ‘as family’.
May be I am way off and some book like the dictionary or the bible or a frantic fundamentalist will send me right back to my self-righteous or estranged stance to the word forgiveness. I can only hope instead I will stay in a state of for giving.