Friday, October 12, 2007

Forgive and Forget--Really?

Earlier this week a co-worker and I made a major boo-boo at work. We were joking around with another co-worker and said a couple of things that hurt her feelings. When we realized that she was really upset, we apologized. A couple of days later, we got an email from her telling us what a bad week she'd been having, and going into detail about how our picking on her made her feel a lot worse.

Now, I have to admit that my first reaction (as well as that of my other co-worker) to that email was to get bent out of shape. After all, we'd already apologized and thought that our apology had been accepted. Who was she to keep throwing our comments back in our face? When someone is genuinely sorry and apologizes, you should let it go, right? Our hackles were definitely up. We were starting to feel a little insulted and offended ourselves.

Later, the Holy Spirit tapped me on the shoulder and gently but firmly reminded me of times when I had said that I accepted someone's apology, but internally I wasn't so quick to let the matter drop. I might not have shared with them how their actions or inactions had grieved me, but I might have had conversations in my head in which I launched into a diatribe of how they had offended me. An imaginary, one-sided airing of the grievances, if you will.

It's one thing to say that we forgive someone. Actually forgiving and loosing our grip on the offense (and offender) is another story. Forgiveness does not necessarily mean that we let the other person off the hook, as if their offense does not matter. In many cases, there are repercussions to deal with, some that can last for a lifetime. In forgiving someone, we are not letting them get away with what they did, but rather, we are choosing to free ourselves from bitterness and resentment that go hand in hand with an offense.

This episode with my co-worker this week has certainly made me really consider the timing and wisdom of my words. More so, it's made me think about the power of truly forgiving and letting go of anger and resentment.

It's funny how even a seemingly petty situation and gain some spiritual insights from it. Hopefully, my co-worker will be in a better mood come Monday, and there won't be any more tension between her and us. We are all a pretty close-knit group of co-workers, so I am hopeful that all will truly be forgiven and we can move on. But it's definitely been a learning experience, not necessarily one I care to repeat, but one I'm grateful for nonetheless!


Snapshot said...

Ah, if we could just forget. Yes forgiveness is sometimes very easy. there's a spiritual discipline I need some help with. I read a story about Mother Teresa one time and she had been in a conflict with someone. Years later, that person came to her and wanted to talk about it. Her response was "I specifically remember forgetting about that." If I could be that mature, my life would be much easier.

DJG said...

Letting go seems unnatural in so many ways, but it is often the very thing that we need to do to be set free.