Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Power of Forgiveness

What do you think is more important, forgiving someone else or being forgiven yourself? Which one feels better to you, is more comforting? I'm asking this not because I think there's a wrong or right answer; everyone's response is probably a little different. In the past month or so I've been given the chance to be on both ends, and I still haven't decided for myself.

A few years ago I was wronged by someone and never spoke up about it. I lost contact with them and never got the chance to reconnect. I did the stalker thing and tried to Google them and find them on Myspace a few times, with no luck. I never harbored any resentment against them but always kind of wished our friendship hadn't fallen out. A couple of weeks ago he found me here on Myspace. He sent me a message saying the only reason he signed up for an account was so he could contact me and ask for my forgiveness.

It was weird, to tell you the truth. Not because I didn't want to forgive him, or felt I couldn't, but because he was just so upfront and honest about it. That's a pretty rare thing anymore and I know it takes a lot of guts to admit your mistakes. It does for me.

I wrote him back to let him know everything is in the past and I still love him. I haven't heard from him since but it was nice to get some (Oprah-word warning) closure on it all. I don't know if I'll ever hear from him again but it was really good to get his message and know that everything is cool between us.

Perhaps it was his message that prompted to me ask for some forgiveness of my own. I'm not always perfect and don't always treat people the way they deserve (despite what my publicist would have you believe) and I treated one of my friends pretty badly. I'd find myself thinking about it and regret the way I acted. A little over a week ago a did a little message-writing of my own.

I didn't know if she would forgive me or, for that fact, even read the message before deleting it. I didn't know what level, if any, we would be able to restore our friendship to or if she would even want to try. That wasn't why I was doing it. I was doing it because I felt it was important I told her I was wrong and ask her to forgive me. She would have every reason to say no and I wouldn't blame her, but I felt it necessary to let her know.

And she did. She forgave me. We've been chatting a bit again and it's been really nice to be able to have that friendship there. It isn't at the same level it was before, it might never be, but it's good to be able to drop her an IM and say hey. It's very humbling to confess your mistakes, especially to the very person you've hurt, but it's always worth it. Sometimes those relationships can be restored and sometimes they can't. But you never know until you try.

So what do I think feels better: forgiving or forgiveness? I don't know. Based on these two interactions, probably forgiveness. They're both important, but when you ask for forgiveness, you're giving up any and all control. It's not up to you. It's up to them. There's nothing you can do about it and I think there's something really special about that vulnerability. It's not always the most comfortable position to be in, but without it I don't think the whole forgiveness thing is complete.

As Dennis Miller says, of course that's just my opinion. I could be mistaken.

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