Thursday, July 06, 2017


I have always been terrible about forgiving.  It takes awhile for my "mad" to wear off, and even then, I feel like I have a memory like an elephant.  I remember the offense for a long time, and often think about it.  My husband is just the opposite.  He gets over anger quickly, and then promptly forgets the offense.  Weeks later he can't remember the details, while I remember every word.

Recently we had a very offensive thing happen with a neighbor.  Certain offemsive comments were made to us.  In the moment, I tried to be tolerant.  I tried to be long suffering,  I tried to bite my tongue and keep the peace.  My daughter was in the next room, and came out and put the person in their place.  Part of me wanted to just try to keep the peace.  Part of me was cheering my daughter on.  You would think that after that flare up, and after my stating our position, that would be the end of the problem.  But no, the neighbor went on to be offensive to my sons while we were in China for a month.  I wrote an email to the neighbors.  I started out trying to be tactful, but I have to admit that my anger came out and I wrote a few sharp things.  The neighbor replied, and said they never meant to be offensive.  But honestly, it wasn't much of an apology.

In our scriptures, we are taught that we can "reprove at times with sharpness"but show an "increase of love" thereafter.   (Not an exact quote). I did write an email thanking this neighbor for something nice they did for me.  I also have greeted her when I have seen her.  But that's as far as it has gone,  frankly, I think we are both trying to avoid each other.

One of my problems with forgiveness in this situation is that now I don't trust them.  They have revealed themselves to me, and I haven't liked what I saw.  This is perhaps the hardest thing about forgiveness that is hardest for me.  I might be able to accept them as friends again, but I will probably always keep them at a distance.

So as I've been thinking about this, I thought of the dog training done by Cesar Milan.  One thing he does is provide psychological exercises for the dogs.  For example, he makes them lay in a calm state while listening to loud noises that frighten them.  As the dogs practice these exercises, it is amazing how quickly they overcome their fears and bad behavior.  I've begun to look at these experiences with my neighbor as a psychological exercise for us.  It helps me to think of this as an opportunity for me to learn to forgive.  I'm still struggling with the forgiving part, but thinking of this as a sort of spiritual exercise has helped me to look at these neighbors differently.  I'm not a person that lets go of things easily.  Call it tenacity, or stubbornness, or just pride, but I tend to hang on to things.   I would like to learn to be able to wholely forgive and forget.  How does a person get things out of their mind?  If you have any suggestions, please pass them on.


Chuck said...

I, too, have a problem forgiving others. Their offenses break trust, and they have to earn to regain my trust. Some offenses occurred back in the 1970's and the person is now deceased. My rationalization now is to turn it over to the Lord. I can no longer do anything about it. He will take care of all the wrongs done to us, and we need not worry.

Rummuser said...

Perfectly normal human trait. Don't flog yourself over it. If the offeinsive behaviour stops, you will eventually forget the irritation. This too shall pass!

Amber said...

You could try praying and asking the Lord to help you forget what they did and said and also to be able to trust them as a friend again. However, having said that I also don't think it's necessarily a bad thing not to trust someone after they've wronged you, at least in my experience, people don't change and if they've behaved badly once odds are they will again. I think it is okay to be friendly without being good friends with someone again, or to allow a good long period of being friends at a distance before you trust them to be a good friend again. We can and should always be kind and loving but that doesn't mean that we have to be a doormat.

Joanne said...

More power to you.