A Different Angle on Forgiving

In photography, one simple tip for getting more interesting photos is to shoot from different angles. The angle can drastically change the overall look and feel of the image, and different angles will allow you to see the same thing in a way that you may not have seen it before.

The same is true when it comes to forgiveness. Looking at the story from different angles will allow you to see the same thing in a way that you may not have seen it before.

If we get so invested in just looking at the situation from only our own eye level, we will miss a huge portion of the story. Seeing more of the story can provide courage to move towards the healing power of forgiveness.

“Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi have a powerful friendship born of unthinkable loss. Rodriguez’ son was killed in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001; el-Wafi’s son Zacarias Moussaoui was convicted of a role in those attacks and is serving a life sentence.” The Mothers Who Found Forgiveness and Friendship

“On one awful night in 1995, Ples Felix’s 14-year-old grandson murdered Azim Khamisa’s son in a gang initiation fueled by drugs, alcohol and a false sense of belonging. The deadly encounter sent Khamisa and Felix down paths of deep meditation, to forgive and to be forgiven — and in an act of bravery and reconciliation, the two men met and forged a lasting bond.” What Come After Tragedy? Forgiveness.

“In 1996, Thordis Elva shared a teenage romance with Tom Stranger, an exchange student from Australia. After a school dance, Tom raped Thordis, after which they parted ways for many years. In this extraordinary talk, Elva and Stranger move through a years-long chronology of shame and silence, and invite us to discuss the omnipresent global issue of sexual violence in a new, honest way” Our Story of Rape and Reconciliation

“Most of us need time to work through pain and loss (James E Faust).” This is important to note, not to give justification for putting off forgiveness, but for permission to allow to move through the process leading towards forgiveness.

In each of these stories, you will notice that forgiveness took time.  And, it should be pointed out, that they each actively choose to not succumb to hate and revenge but pushed towards forgiveness. It’s a choice.

I think the thing that gets in the way of forgiveness is this idea that forgiving is removing the responsibility and accountability from the “guilty”. When someone has done something that has deeply hurt you or someone you love it may feel wrong to forgive when you think that forgiving is “letting them off the hook”.  But forgiveness isn’t about turning a blind eye and ignoring the offense. It’s not about brushing it aside or making light of it. It’s not downplaying the event or the act. Forgiving is not a form of self -sacrifice.

Forgiveness is about healing, finding peace.

“Forgiveness is freeing up and putting to better use the energy once consumed by holding grudges, harboring resentments, and nursing unhealed wounds. It is rediscovering the strengths we always had and relocating our limitless capacity to understand and accept other people and ourselves (Dr. Sydney Simon).”