Is it harder to forgive or be forgiven?

forgiveSomeone asked me this question ealier today.

It kind of stunned me.

And it lead to a rich conversation.

The context of her question (and yes, I’ve gotten her permission to mention our conversation here) was that early last  month she discovered that a very close friend had stolen from her – substantially.   She was so angry that she immediately drove to the friend’s home for a confrontation.  As she pulled into her friend’s driveway, she didn’t see her friend’s two kids playing in front of the garage.  She hit one of them.  The child survived – with very critical injuries that will require several surgeries over the next few months.

As you catch your breath, I’ll let you know that this woman and her friend are working hard on extending and accepting forgiveness to and from each other.  They’ve even involved a neutral third party.

It’s going to be a long road for all.    As I hold them both in my heart, I ask

where are you with this whole forgiveness thing?

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13 thoughts on “Is it harder to forgive or be forgiven?

  1. lisa dear~
    what a conflicting situation!!! it is my prayer that this woman (who was ripped off by her “very close friend”) is putting alot of energy into forgiving herself!!!
    for a young child to be playing on ANY road well traveled is rather
    risky~ many kids get run over in their own driveway, and parents of young children need to set rules for not playing where cars go. if the child knew this rule but chose to ignore it, is this the drivers’ fault? if the mother forgot to convey this information to the child, is this also the drivers’ fault??? and, what’s up with a “friend” who steals a “substantial amount of money”~ if i were the woman who was stolen from~ i would at this point ask for my money back, (and if it wasn’t forthcoming i would get a lawyer involved) and find a new friend. this “close friend” is a thief~ no forgiveness necessary, unless the victim is forgiving her own self for making bad choices with friendship. she badly needs to cut this “friend” loose from her life, and forget this “forgiveness” cycle… the “friend” is poisoning her.

  2. …practice, practice, practice. There is a wonderful feeling of release to forgive someone who has hurt you deeply. Call it a sense of freedom or a softening of that hard shell that can surround our hearts. Whatever you want to call it, it feels good and it feels right. It is forgiving myself, even for small misdeeds, that is difficult. My hope is that as I practice forgiveness towards others it will become easier to forgive myself. Each day is a small step closer.

  3. thanks to all of you who’ve responded via this blog, private e.mails and on facebook.

    as i read all of your replies i’m reminded of the quote from the Buddha “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned.”

    Beth, i couldn’t agree with you more!

    Sarah, yup – not often easy, but always necessary.

    Jane, i so get what you’re saying about the need to end the friendship. in this case, i don’t think these two women looking for forgiveness/reconciliation that will result in them moving on together. i think they just want to be able to move on.

    Neill, ahhhhhhhhhh ” … a softening of that hard shell that can surround our hearts”. what a holy image. practice practice practice indeed.

    again, humble THANKS to you all.

  4. Just my thoughts, but forgiving others is the most difficult task. And this comes from the fact that we so often feel we’re “right” in the conflicts we face. So, our basic instinct is to feel that the other person is the one at fault. Looking in the mirror is the most difficult task we face. So much easier to just blame the other person, and think we’re doing the right thing if we just forgive them. Accepting our own responsibility for any conflict is far more difficult. VERY few conflicts occur that we don’t have a significant role in setting up. Who wants to acknowledge that! So we just blame the other person, and feel a nice sense of relief. Accepting our own responsibility in any conflict is always the most difficult part. I tried that once. Didn’t like it at all. So now I just blame other people.

  5. tom~ “accepting our own responsibility in any conflict is always the most difficult part~” you just got to the “real messy” “real true” essence of it~

  6. from Iona – where forgivenness could be breathed in if \i want that – i have come to feel that giving/getting forgiveness is a habit i can cultivate. also, it has been been amply demonstrated to me that EVERY time I start blaming, I later learn that a very different situation was going on in the outer world whilst (Scotish for while) I have been ranting against my own inner stuff. So, Sister Ritchie, I can say authoritatively, yes. Yes it is difficult for me to forgive myself, and yes, it is difficult for me to forgive others, but surely they are intimately related. and i’m suspecting there is no real separation between me and all them.

  7. oooooooo Carol, thanks for the wisdom and lessons you send us from Iona – a forgiving place, to be sure.

  8. Lisa,

    I’m conflicted on this one. On one side, I’m all for not dwelling on the past and moving forward, but on the other side I hold people very accountable for their actions. Forgiveness has to be earned, and our own culpability regarding the situation that created the reason for forgiveness helps determine what that price tag will be.

    Don

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