Forgiveness Essay Example.

Forgiveness is a complicated thing. A "thing" - is that what I should really call it? For something so painful, so sharp and bitter, and perhaps soft and sweet all at once, should I really call something so big a "thing"?

As a little girl I'd certainly have called the card game that my friend Chloe cheated at a "thing". Tears streamed from my face as I stomped my foot on the ground, insisting that, "she knows how to play! She's just ruining everything on purpose!" My head hung low that night when she knocked on my front door after walking to my house and apologizing. I felt bad, but some part of me still didn't want to forgive her. I'd invited her over, led her hand in hand to the basement full of toys, and taught her the rules to my favorite card game so we could play together. And what did she do? Cheated at the game, and laughed quietly behind my mother's back when she was turned to me to defend her. It just wasn't fair.

My mom forced me to accept that apology though, and I learned (or thought I had), that forgiveness existed so that the offender could feel better about themselves, and the offended could feel a million times worse.

Why I Didn't Like Forgiveness

Throughout my childhood, apologies and forgiveness always felt like something dirty to me. I was repulsed by myself when I had to apologize to my mom for hiding her wedding ring or snapping the ear off her favorite glass deer statue when I was mad at her. Sure, a declaration of apology gave things a resolution, but it also heightened all my emotions, made me feel guilty and dejected and disgusting all over. Apologies had become the pit stuck in my throat, the vomit brewing in the depths of my stomach. Forgiving someone didn't feel much better. I always felt an odd sense of power, one I did not want, and an uncomfortable compulsion to forgive, even if someone didn't necessarily deserve it. I hated knowing that their potential feelings could be determined by whatever I said.

Apologies unfortunately only became more prevalent in life as I got older. They were thrown around like dirty rags in a bathroom. How could these words that had so much power be used so lightly? They were always around too often or too little. After my friend had been made fun of and was crying in the bathroom, all the school made her bully do give was a simple "sorry" - it went along with rolled eyes. And the times I wanted apologies most - like when my 7th grade science teacher lost my paper and I was forced to retype the whole thing bleary eyes at midnight - I didn't receive one.

So what are these words "I'm sorry", and do they really mean anything at all?

When I was younger, my mom told me that they meant, "I feel bad that I did this, and I won't do it again." The internet, however, tells me that they originate from a form of self justification and defense, not pity for another person.

So why don't I feel like either of these descriptions match the words I hear so often? There's only one possible answer, only one that makes sense to me. And that's that words don't have any meaning at all - not naturally at least. Words only have the meaning we give them, put into them when we present them to another person. Apologies can mean nothing at all. Or they can hold the sorrow of an entire world. It all depends on what we really mean. The words "I'm sorry" exist to encapsulate the pain and regret that we feel. If these words slip out of your mouth and mean nothing, let those words mean nothing. Apologies and forgiveness exist merely to be what we want, and what we need in that moment. So despite my struggles with apologies, I've accepted them back into my life. Maybe even too much. Nowadays I can't stop internally apologizing. To the woman crying on the street, I am sorry. To the little boy that drops his ice cream, I am sorry. To my mother who is tired after her long day of work, I am sorry. To the veteran I see with a sullen face bringing flowers to the cemetery, I am sorry. I am sorry to you all who are in pain.

I Accepted Forgiveness

I've learned to love forgiveness too, and just like apologizing, it has snuck itself into my daily life. Now I'm desperate to forgive, to ease my mind from those who have harmed me in some way. Under my breath I can forgive the man in the New York subway that curses me for walking too slowly, my sister who yells at me because she is on her period and we're out of pads, the boy at my school that tells me my shorts make me look like a slut. None of them will apologize of course, but that's okay. Maybe some part of them feels guilty deep down and can't confront that feeling. Maybe they'll forget those moments a few hours after they happen, while I am still holding on. And that is also okay. They don't need to apologize, because either way I am able to find peace and let go.

The popularized phrase, "forgive and forget" is so often refuted that I stopped taking it to heart years ago. "Forgive," everyone says to, "but never forget." so these words had become my new truth. Only recently I realized that maybe it's not such a good motto. Why hold onto something that you don't have to, that will only drag you down and make you more bitter about a situation every day? Of course there's exceptions to every circumstance, but what kind of happiness can you get from never letting go of when your sister yelled at you or a boy in the hallways made you feel devalued?

Everyday we're faced with choices regarding forgiveness and apologizing. When your friend comes to your door to apologize for cheating at a card game, do you really want to hold that against her? When you break your mother's tiny glass deer an apology should feel like a relief. Forgive yourself too. And if your teacher refuses to apologize for losing the science paper that you worked so hard on, but didn't save the file for, forgive her too in your heart.

We can live our lives despising the awkward moments of apologies, or we can learn to love them. We all will slip up sometimes. You cannot always apologize, and you cannot always forgive. You cannot always forget, and that is okay. But the words "I'm sorry" and "I forgive you" can only mean what we make them out to be. So make them count.


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