Looking for forgiveness (and not finding it)

forgiveness drawn in sand

I have had a lot of sh*tty things happen to me in the past year and a half, and it’s really shaken (probably more like shattered) the faith I used to have in the goodness of humanity.  In particular, I look at the behaviour of a couple of people who were in positions to exert considerable power over me.  This behaviour is probably best described as cruel, and it has significantly impacted both my current circumstances and my ability to move beyond those circumstances.  It profoundly disgusts me that people in positions of power can and do conduct themselves in such a manner, and I believe it reflects fundamental problems on a broader scale.  However that is beyond the scope of this post.

“When a deep injury is done to us we never heal until we forgive.” – Nelson Mandela

Throughout this current depressive episode, which has lasted more than a year and been resistant to treatment, I have given a lot of thought to what it might take for me to get well again.  People far wiser than I am have spoken about the importance of forgiveness, so occasionally I ponder this, and ask myself how, or if, I would be able to forgive.  And no matter how often I think about it, I keep drawing a blank.

“Forgiveness is how we put a stop to anger, ill-will and a desire for revenge” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

In some of my darkest moments, I have contemplated a scenario where I was driving down the street, and a certain person happened to be crossing the road, and accidentally/on-purpose…  Well, let’s just leave it at that; I am not a violent person by any stretch of the imagination, but there is a nasty, vengeful part of me that wishes the people who directly contributed to so much suffering on my part could get a little payback.

“The weak can never forgive.  Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe the problem is that I am not strong enough to forgive.  I am not the bigger person; I’m the little person that my depression has made me.  This isn’t the person I used to be, but now I am easily irritated and really do not like most people.  It feels as though forgiveness would involve climbing to a new height, and I’m wearing flip flops rather than climbing shoes.

“Practicing forgiveness does not mean accepting wrong doing.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The past and future are both painful directions to look in, so I try to just focus on one day at a time.  In some ways that’s a good thing, but it’s perhaps not the most useful as a coping mechanism to deal with  uncertainty or unwillingness around forgiveness.  If I’m truly honest with myself, probably less is uncertainty, and more is unwillingness.  It’s as if by forgiving that would somehow condones the behaviour.  As if in some twisted way I would be betraying myself by forgiving.  I know it’s not logical or reasonable, but there you have it.

hands clasped in prayer

There is another factor that has started bubbling up in my mind recently.  I grew up in an atheist household.  The only religious services I’ve ever attended have been in foreign languages while travelling overseas.  I have long had concerns over the unspeakable ills that have been done for many, many years supposedly in the name of organized religion.  And yet…  Religion makes a regular appearance in a number of the blogs that I read regularly, and this has provided some interesting food for thought.  I’ve been reminded of the deeply powerful and positive role that religion can play, as a source of strength, hope, and meaning.  Is faith a missing piece of the puzzle in the search for forgiveness?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins – Mark 11:25

I’m the first to admit I have spent very little time looking at the bible, and I found the above passage courtesy of Google, but I wonder, is it easier to find motivation to forgive if there’s something in it for you?  Of course that’s not the intended biblical meaning, and there’s something “in it for me” regardless of how I might find forgiveness, but sometimes a little extrinsic motivation can be useful when the intrinsic motivation just isn’t coming.

Perhaps faith in a higher power can act as a beacon to guide the way along difficult journeys.  I certainly feel like I could use at least a signpost some of the time.  While I’m unlikely to let go of my concerns with organized religion anytime soon, maybe it really is time for some soul-searching to see if there’s some sort of higher power/purpose/meaning, whatever that may be, that could allow me to move beyond whatever it is that’s holding me back, and find the strength to forgive.

 

There is a follow-up to this post here,

Photo  credits:

BenteBoe on Pixabay

Himsan on Pixabay

26 thoughts on “Looking for forgiveness (and not finding it)

  1. girlwiththepawprinttattoo says:

    I think you still have the power to forgive. I had a hard time understanding that I am not the depression until my therapist gave me insight into the condition. It does not control us, even if it feels that way sometimes. Depression has not changed who you are as a person. You are still the wonderful person you’ve always been, but depression is making you believe that you are not. Don’t give up hope or think that you are unable to forgive. It’s in there, you just have to dig deep to find it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Revenge of Eve says:

    In regards to myself and forgiveness, I’ve struggled. And to be quite honest, I’m not sure if I’ve ever forgiven. It’s more been put at the back of my mind over time but when something strikes on that situation, I feel the resentment as if it had just happened. I would love to say I forgive them and myself for harboring these feeling for so long but I can’t 100% say I can. I do not believe religion is the way either… perhaps a higher power, a guide will assist. I share the same sediments about religious organizations, yet I have a higher power. This post definitely made me think about my personal experiences. Thank you for your honesty.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. SweetSummerOnline says:

    Maybe your not ready to forgive, every situation needs it’s time. Metaphorically speaking my dinners always taste better when they’ve had time to sit. When someone hurts you, it’s not easy to disconnect and be done with them, there’s a grieving process and when that passes maybe you’ll be ready to forgive, not forget.
    Sometimes we want to see them remorseful for their actions and that’s why we can’t forgive. If anything don’t punish yourself with these negative feelings. You deserve to be happy x

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Brazokie says:

    As I’ve read somewhere, “it is like drinking poison but waiting for the other person to die”. I just can’t accept the concept of “just do it” though. I have to cool down from the situation. It is almost like forgiving too soon would be like eliminating consequences of a bad behavior of another person. My process of forgiveness is around understanding. I can understand and yet not agree. As mentioned above, much like in the grieving process, there will be rage, and denial, and sadness, until you can accept and understand… and finally forgive. Time is not set of when it happens. My guess is that western christian culture set up this “instant forgiveness” expectation on people, which only generates more anxiety if we can’t follow that teaching, in my opinion. I will leave it to a god to have that awesome power or instant-forgiveness, because I can’t! Hit me in the face and I will insta-jump on you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ashleyleia says:

      Thanks for your comments. It’s interesting that you raise the point of understanding. Sometimes we can understand and not agree, but I wonder if there’s other times where understanding will never come, because sometimes people are just mean for the sake of being mean. And I’m with you on the insta-jump;)

      Like

  5. Brazokie says:

    On my most recent case, it was me understanding that nothing would make me feel better as long as it remained connected to that person. I started to imagine scenarios… would I feel better if the decision was reverted? Yes and no, because my trust was already broken. Would I feel better if the same wrong doing happened to that person? Not really. Would I feel better if I could inflict pain to that person? No, because I’d be going down their level, I’d become what I hate. If the person just poof! died all of a sudden, would I feel better? Not really, would make no difference in my life. I realized that what would make me feel better were situations where that person was not involved any longer, to move on. Now, that took me months. At first I was red hot pissed off and wanted her punished. I wanted revenge. Then I became tired. Hate is a strong feeling, requires a lot of energy and maintenance. So it started to wear off and I started to be more logical about it. Then I realized: she doesn’t deserve my brain! I can be thinking other things. Spend energy on something else. I will be able to move on and she’ll keep being this horrible person, sucks to be her! From that point on I started a more active “forgive” process. It is slow, but I hope you reach that point. Don’t push it, don’t lie to yourself, but yes, keep working on it when you feel you can afford the energy, it sure is work.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Eva Moody says:

    Forgive yourself first…
    For having expectatioms of others to behave well. By doing this you are empowering yourself to take full control of what you feel. My anger and blame has lessened vastly since I jave done this to the point I need to re-write some parts of my blog from a different perspective.
    Don’t waste your energy on people who are not even aware of how broken they have made you. In doing so you are only empowering them more…
    In writing this I remind myself to keep taking my own advice too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bravingmentalillness says:

    Thanks for the honesty and I agree, forgiveness is not easy and takes a lot of courage. Sometimes it’s taken me 15 years to forgive so take whatever time you need and try not to criticize yourself for needing that time. We all heal at our own pace. Many blessings to you and be well!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. haveyouevernoticedblog says:

    Looks like you are walking on the right road. I attended a funeral recently. The grandmother had passed. This family seemed so lost. They were sullen and dark. Don’t get me wrong, most funerals suck, but there was almost a eerie, creepy feeling .A few years before, her granddaughter was murdered by her boyfriend. During the young woman’s funeral, the priest stepped outside to ask them to forgive. They told him they could not. I got the feeling it damaged the family. I pray that they will heal.

    Like

  9. thespiritdrivenwoman says:

    I have taken a long road to forgiveness. I was finally able to reach it a couple years ago. I cannot begin to tell you the things I have experienced in the hands of others. I was an atheist about 8 or years ago. I was agnostic as a child. Organized religion can be dangerous if you don’t understand the heart behind the actions and teachings. I have a relationship with Jesus now, that has really been the foundation of my forgiveness and moving on. To give you a little more perspective, I had been on adult psychotropic medications from about he age of 11. I have not been on any of them for about 7 years. Not saying there is no use for them, but God’s renewal of the mind is a real thing and I’ve experienced it for myself. If you have any questions ever please feel free to message me! God’s truth is not something you can take in all at once, it comes in bits and pieces. If you would like to know more about my beliefs and my journey I have started a blog and I would love to have you follow and let me know your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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