Can You Forgive?

Years ago I had a ‘discussion’ with two coworkers.  One might call it an argument.  Okay I called it an argument because I did not agree with them.  Mostly because they were wrong.  But partly due to me being a little bit oppositional defiant.   It has stuck with me.  Because I still think they are wrong.

I don’t know what situation we were arguing about.  But the part that started the argument was when I spoke about forgiving someone.

And they told me I couldn’t.

I was a bit taken aback.

Why couldn’t I?

Their argument was that the person we were discussing (long since forgotten but not necessary for this, make up something if you would like) never asked to be forgiven.

I still didn’t get it.

To me, it didn’t matter if the person didn’t ask me to forgive them.  It was something I needed to do.  To not carry around all of the angst that one carries when they feel wronged or angry, hurt or belittled.  Or whatever.

No.  I was wrong they said.  How can I ‘give’ forgiveness if the person does not ask for it.  Or the person feels they weren’t wrong.

Because, I argued, it’s something I do internally for me.  Whatever I felt wronged about, I needed to let it go and forgive the person.

No.  No.  They both said.

Yes.  Yes.  I said.

No.  They tried to reason with me.  They explained that I cannot give to someone what they have not asked for.

But I’m not going up to the person and saying “I forgive you”.   It’s something that is within me, that I am letting go of.  That I am forgiving them for.

They said I can’t do that.

By then I was getting frustrated because they were not understanding me.  And angry because they were ganging up on me.

Why do I have to wait for someone else to ask me for something that I am willing to give.  And need to give.  And though it has the word “give” in it’s name I don’t feel it’s something I need to actually give to someone else.  Sometimes it might be about giving forgiveness to  someone who asks for it.  But sometimes it is giving up unwanted feelings of anger, bitterness, disappointment, hurt and so many other feelings.  Letting go of something you harbor towards someone because you don’t want to keep anything like that stored in you.

They both gave me one of those condescending looks as they leaned back and glanced at one another.  Funny how I can remember that but not the incident that started this argument.   Maybe I need to forgive them for that.  Because obviously it still bothers me.  But, they have never asked to be forgiven.