notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Practical Forgiveness

About two years ago, a friend hurt my feelings.

This was not a close friend – since those friends and family whom we love are usually more sensitive to our sensitivities. Not that a loved one cannot hurt you, but I think it is rarer. Unless of course, they don’t really love you at all. Then you need to reflect on why your closest companions would not be kind to you.

But I digress, as I usually do. Of course, my dearest friends indulge me in this. That’s one reason why I love them so. They may roll their eyes of course, but that is permitted.

No, this was a person who I consider more than an acquaintance but less than a loved one. Many people fall into this category – they’re the folks who know a bit about you and you about them – where they live, what they do for a living, perhaps the name of their spouse or their children, and especially about what you have in common that has made you a friend in the first place. But probably you’ve never actually been in their house or socialized beyond your common interest.

This person who hurt me was one of those. I don’t believe she was being mean or that she deliberately intended to make me feel bad. I think it was one of those careless things. Thoughtless. Not cruel.

This woman made a critical remark about a physical flaw I have that I am sensitive and self-conscious about.

I can easily overlook inconsiderate comments from people who don’t know better. Like someone who recently asked about my children, when I am unfortunately childless. That is not unkind, even though it may be painful to me. It’s not unfeeling; just uninformed.

But this hurtful comment came from someone who knew about my flaw, and described it in a tactless way.

I felt bad. And I felt bad for quite a long time.

I could have ended our small friendship. It wouldn’t have been hard. We see each other occasionally, but there are always plenty of other people around when we meet, and it would be easy to avoid her without shunning her. I could “unfriend” her online. That is a simple keystroke. After all, why would I be friends with someone who hurt my feelings?

But I didn’t. I remained friends. Sometimes you just have to forgive people for their occasional lapses in good manners. Perhaps she was having a bad day. Perhaps she also felt bad after she said it. I know there has been a time or two (or a hundred) when I was sorry that unkind or insensitive words came out of my mouth. She hurt me but didn’t mean to hurt me. That is not so hard to forgive, after all.

And last week, the most amazing thing happened.

This woman, whose words stung enough that I had shed a few tears – this same woman – did me a favor that she didn’t need to do.

She helped me, just out of plain generosity.

If I had ended our friendship, I wouldn’t have received the help I needed. I would have been a little stuck for a little longer.

Keeping her as a friend despite an unkind remark turned out to be a very good thing.

I got the help I needed.

And I got to change my opinion of her from unkind to kind.

She’s nice and it’s nice to know that again.

Forgiveness can be a very practical practice.

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30 Comments

  1. Thanks for the great reminder to always give the benefit of the doubt and assume other people’s good intent. It costs us nothing, and–as you say–we never can know what else might be happening in their lives. Even if someone’s slight is intentional, giving them a pass serves our own better nature!

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    • Why not think the best of someone? That’s what I would want for myself.

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  2. Wise words.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jono51

    This is a very good thing to keep in mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very nice, and so very true. Tactless remarks were commonplace towards me, and stayed with me for years, though I tried not to let anyone see how much their comments hurt. It is easier to see people who have upset you when you’re in a crowd. I’m glad you have restored the friendship. Good way to start the year. Hope 2017 is a good one for you.

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    • Sometimes even the smallest slights haunt you for a long time. But it doesn’t mean you still can’t forgive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can forgive a person once. Then, as the saying goes, “Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.” If a person hurts me twice, it’s probably not an accident.

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        • That’s probably true. I believe in forgiveness, but I also believe in standing up for yourself, and treating yourself with kindness. That means not subjecting yourself to abuse.

          Liked by 2 people

      • I discovered a long time ago that life’s too short for petty squabbles or misunderstandings, so I may forgive, but I don’t forget.

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  5. It is much more rewarding to love that hate.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is easy to say you hurt me get lost, lose my number, it is often wiser to accept that the hurt was not intended and put it behind you and move on, wiser but not easier

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    • No, not always easier. But I reminded my husband recently when he complained about how a friend had not been there for him: I said, “But maybe it isn’t about what kind of friend he is, but what kind of friend you are.”

      Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s funny how even after a long time we always remember how someone made us feel. I’m glad you didnt burn your bridges with this person. It sounds like she is basically kind but just made a flippant remark without thinking of its impact on you. A well timed lesson for all of us.

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    • We’ve all had our share of thoughtless moments. And perhaps she does regret it, and by offering to do me a favor, was hoping to atone. So maybe we will both find peace.

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  8. Yes! Everybody is a jerk now and then, whether as you say because they were having a bad day, or for whatever reason. I try to look beyond and hope others, like you did with this friend, do the same. You’re a good person, Nancy.

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    • I know that some people like to expect the worst of people – it keeps them from being disappointed, they say. But I feel better served – and happier – by expecting the best in others.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Forgiving someone requires lot of courage..You must be having a big heart full of love ☺

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    • I sometimes look at it as quite the opposite. I have a small heart, so there’s not much room for hate and negativity.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Wow. Maybe on some level, your friend knew she’d said something mean and regretted it. Maybe this was her way of trying to apologize. Maybe one had nothing to do with the other, you never know! Great post, Nancy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I will probably never know, so I will be happy that it all worked out.

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  11. I was thinking of forgiveness this morning. How, in actuality, it is easy to forgive someone. You decide and you do it. What is difficult is forgetting and that blocks true forgiveness so often. I loved this post, you write words that touch my heart and make me think. Thank you!

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    • It’s an amazing feeling to be told that my words touch you… or anyone. Thank you. And no, I don’t forget, but I think of the hurt as something that was temporary – like a bout of the flu – you get better and it doesn’t matter in the long run.

      Liked by 1 person

      • so true, although, I have been fighting a flu bug since October, so it doesn’t seem so temporary to me! I loved your post, thanks!

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

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Thanks for your thoughtful post on forgiveness. These days it seems we need more of it in all areas. It’s hard to know how to forgive. I think it’s something one has to feel into & allow time to be the tool to change the mood or feeling. Empathy, as you showed by staying her friend & realizing you too have wronged others, is also quite powerful. I wish more social movements these days included forgiveness.

    I’d like to add that as a Christian, I pray for forgiveness of myself and others. Such faith has made me a lot sweeter…mostly. 😉

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  14. Forgiveness has been weighing heavy on my heart, my last two posts have been about forgiveness, I loved you perspective. Forgiveness is more times about our own strength than it is a statement about who or what we are trying to forgive. You must have amazing strength. I’m working on it. Thank you for sharing.

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  15. ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.’- MLK JR>
    Even though she had said something that really and truly hurt you, you still forgave her and looked pasted it and that’s what makes you a good person because you will to be her friend then be her enemy.

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  16. I liked this. I’m trying to work on forgiveness. I’ve been holding on to a few resentments. Just started reading a book on it, called Forgive for Good. Sorry that person made that comment. I have had that happen to me, too.

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