Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Further thoughts on forgiveness
I think this is a common thing. Except in situations where the person has clearly gone out of their way to harm you, and their actions or words are clearly marked with malice, I think it is often safe to believe that the injury was not intentional. It does not absolve the injurer of their culpability, but does create an affirmative defense for their actions.
Now, the injurer's tendency to injure without thought is a good indicator that perhaps they are not a safe person for you to be around, but in the matter of forgiveness, that seems to be a totally seperate issue.
As I consider the relationship, and my choice to forgive, I think of this...What am I really forgiving? Was anything done to me that was so injurious that I need to forgive that specific action? Perhaps...but overall, I would have to be honest with myself and say that the thing I really need to forgive is that he did not fulfill my expectations of what I wanted and needed in a man, and that in itself caused more of an offense than an injury. I think this is often the case with couples who breakup. Where no specific act of injury has been committed, and there are just a hundred little injuries caused by each other's essential selfishness, I think the thing we feel the need to "forgive" often comes down to this: "I forgive you for not being the man/woman I expected you to be when I agreed to have this relationship with you. I forgive you for not being molded into all I hoped you would become as time progressed. I forgive you for feeding my infatuation when we first met, allowing me to build you into an ideal, only to have the reality of your true self come in and dash my expectations of you to pieces. I forgive you for trying to sweep me off my feet by acting as my prince/damsel, only for me to find out later that you're just an average person with hang-ups, just like me. I forgive you for not having hang-ups I can deal with."
Those are broad terms, of course, and we can all find flaws with our exes that we can point to and say, "See that! If they were who they pretended to be when I met them, they would not have had that thing hidden in the background! How could they do that to me??" Certainly, some of our relationships were marked with more downs than ups, and some of those we shared our hearts with did not treat them with as much tenderness as we would have liked. Speaking of this relationship specifically, however, the primary injury I am working to get past is that, in essence, he was not what I was looking for, and I had made an emotional investment into something that just did not work out. And to this end, I must also be honest and say, "Get over it and move forward to the guy that God DOES have for you."
I think this is a great argument for giving relationships time to grow on their own steam, not trying to make them into something just because emotions are running high, and, hey, wouldn't it be great if we could run right past this "just friends" thing and get to the good stuff of being a couple? Some relationships naturally grow quickly, and they are solid from the beginning. Many relationships do not grow as quickly, though, and become solidified over time, as the pretense of first impressions falls away and the relationship still stands strong.
And this is what is frustrating to me...I am 31, I want to get married, and I do not want to go through the whole "getting to know each other" process. Man, that stinks. A catch 22, of the most cruel kind.
On forgiveness - so true. As we peel back the layers of events in our search for meaning in the whole thing, we find our own role in our pain.
I've had two big heartbreaks in my life. After working through betrayal and denial and anger, it comes down to this: Their coping mechanisms were killing me, and I stayed longer than I should have.
"I forgive you for not being the man/woman I expected you to be when I agreed to have this relationship with you."
"I'm sorry I had false expectations of you"
"I forgive you for not being molded into all I hoped you would become as time progressed."
"I'm sorry for trying to mold you"
"I forgive you for feeding my infatuation when we first met, allowing me to build you into an ideal, only to have the reality of your true self come in and dash my expectations of you to pieces.
"I'm sorry my infatuation blinded me to who you really are."
"I forgive you for trying to sweep me off my feet by acting as my prince/damsel, only for me to find out later that you're just an average person with hang-ups, just like me."
"I'm sorry I allowed myself to be swept off my feet as if you were a prince that had come to rescue me."
"I forgive you for not having hang-ups I can deal with."
I'm sorry I'm not able to deal with your hang-ups."
Whenever I'm in a tough situation like this, I try to figure out what I did wrong. That's a good thing. While realizing the other person, or people, also did wrong (maybe more), I know I can't learn lessons for them. I can only learn them for myself.
You make very good points, all of which God has been working into my soul over the last week or so.
For the record, though, I have issued such apologies where I felt they were necessary.
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