It’s something we’re taught when we’re little. It’s a response to someone who has intentionally or unintentionally hurt you and asked to be forgiven. It usually is a response to a sibling who has done something like steal a toy or punch you.
“Anna, J.L. just said he was sorry. What do you say?”
“I forgive you.”
“Now give him a hug.”
We also learn it in church because forgiving someone is the Christian thing to do. The Bible is full of times when Jesus and God forgave people, and the bad things that happened to people who didn’t forgive others. “Forgive Thy Enemy” and “Lord forgive them, they know now what they do,” also come to mind when I think of church and forgiveness.
But how many times do you say, “I forgive you” and really mean it? The word, forgive, has become almost second nature. Someone says, “Oops I’m sorry.” You say, “oh it’s ok, I’m fine” while you’re really thinking, “That was so NOT ok and I’m not fine. I want to go curl up and cry.” I know I am guilty of saying, “it’s ok,” daily if not more.
The worst part is you can’t go back and say anything to the person because you’ve already forgiven them. If you do say something, it will look like you are passive aggressive and like to hold a grudge. Also saying it casually over and over again lessens the significance of actually forgiving someone.
So what do we do? The only thing you can; say how you feel at that moment. I know you don’t want to sound hurtful or mean or weak, but the person needs to know what they did was not ok and in some way it did hurt you. Being honest with the person will help you go on to really forgive them. It can also help you heal the hurt and make you a stronger person for standing up for your feelings.
Photo courtesy of elev8.com
Anna Kiappes is a Guest Writer at local media company YouPlusDallas. She is currently a Senior at Southern Methodist University majoring in Journalism. Follow her on Twitter at @akiappes.