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Monday, July 19, 2010

July: Forgiving Past Mistakes

Ally asks, "Is Cammie foolish or kind for forgiving people for their past mistakes?"

Follow-up: Have you forgiven past mistakes? Why or why not?


Cynthia Leitich Smith said...

I always try to forgive and eventually succeed, though sometimes it takes a while.

But I think it depends on the mistake how that forgiveness will effect a relationship.

If there's a negative pattern--of misrepresentation or minimization or, heaven forbid, abuse, forgiving doesn't necessarily mean picking up the relationship where it left off.

It's okay to protect yourselves when you need to and step back or walk away, depending on circumstances.

Todd Mitchell said...


You're a saint! But I think you're right on, too. In some ways, forgiveness has more to do with the forgiver, than the one who needs to be forgiven. I think, when we forgive someone, we're letting go of our anger towards that person, which allows us to move on.

However, forgiving isn't the same as forgetting (which is what I think you're eluding to in the third paragraph). So you can forgive someone, but that doesn't mean that you need to be foolish about what that person might do in the future. For instance, if a person cheats on you, forgiving them can be a way to let go of the negative feelings that bind you to them. But it doesn't mean that you need to be completely trusting of them in the future. At least --that's the ideal I try to live up to. But getting to a place where you can forgive (truly forgive) can take a long, long time.

I like this subject. In fact, forgiveness is at the core of the book I'm writing right now. As an aside, perhaps the most important form of forgiveness is self-forgiveness. Because if you can't forgive yourself for mistakes, then you'll always be trapped in a cycle of guilt that will keep you making those same mistakes over and over again.

There's a line I remember from a poem by Galway Kinell that relates to all this. It's about a flower (I know, cheesy subject, but he handles it well). Anyhow, the line that stuck with me from the poem goes like this: "The appeal to heaven breaks off. The petals begin to fall, in self-forgiveness. It is a flower. On this mountainside it is dying."

So forgiveness can be loss, or surrender, but it can also lead to transformation.

Anyhow, happy forgiveness!

Erin said...

Forgiveness is so important to me. Not saying it's easy for me, but it's important. I don't want to carry any anger, or bitterness, or bad feelings towards anyone or anything with me, and forgiving them is a way of wiping that clean. But it can be so, so difficult, especially when the person might not be the least bit repentant about their actions.

Erin said...

Also, I really like what Cynthia and Todd had to say about this. :-)

Little Willow said...

To forgive is - so many things.
However, if someone has done something horrendous to me or someone I care about - something irrevocably damaging, wrong, illegal - there is no way that I'd ever trust that person again.

Martha Brockenbrough said...

I find it really hard to forgive people who have hurt me but don't acknowledge it. You know the type, perhaps: the ones who insult you and pretend it's for your own good (but you looked so UGLY in your glasses!). Maybe someday I'll be big enough to forgive that sort of thing, but I admit, I struggle with it.

Lorie Ann Grover said...

I've got to vote for "kind."

I have forgiven. It helped me, and now I've gained a relationship that I would have lost without forgiveness. I would have cheated myself.

But I do hear Cyn's good warnings, too, alongside Todd's exhortations. Bravo!

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