By: Marissa Parks, Regular Contributor
A few years ago I was volunteering at a church conference and was asked to give a presentation on forgiving others. My first reaction was “uh yeah right.” Forgiving others for their actions has NEVER been easy for me. And if I did forgive, I usually never forgot (which is sometimes even worse).
Sorry Mia, but saying “I’m Sorry” on a pizza like in Princess Diaries doesn’t always fix the problem (although pizza probably would make the forgiving process a little easier). After meditating and planning out what I was going to say, I realized that I’m not the only one that struggles with this subject. There are a lot of people that struggle with forgiving others. We all make mistakes, and we all want second chances to do things right. This desire is a necessary part of bettering yourself. After all, making the same mistake over and over is crazy- that’s why they call it insanity!
Not only is simply saying, “I’m sorry,” an important part of forgiveness, but putting the pieces back together and rebuilding the relationship is just as important. Sometimes after people hurt us, it’s difficult to overcome the betrayal. This is where our actions come into play. An over-used analogy that helped me explain forgiveness is the broken plate. Someone throws a plate on the ground and the plate breaks. The person looks at the plate and says, “I’m sorry,” but the plate doesn’t become unbroken. So how do we put the pieces back together? Do we just sit and watch it? Or do we get some super glue and put it back together? We can’t simply become un-hurt. Forgiveness and rebuilding a friendship takes time, and it takes more than just one person. If effort is being made by at least one person in the relationship, there is hope that the other friend will see the effort and respond appropriately.
Coincidentally, right before this talk, I had a falling out with my best friend of twelve years. After endless apologizing, I realized that the only thing that was preventing our friendship from returning to normal was the fact that we hadn’t forgiven each other. There was no way we could rebuild our friendship unless we truly forgave each other and left the past in the past.
A few days had gone without us speaking to each other, and I had become super anxious to have our friendship start on a clean slate. After worrying for hours, she finally called me, and the first thing she said was, “Marissa, I forgive you, and we should help each other to become better people and hold each other accountable so that we don’t make these same mistakes.” It was like a weight had lifted off my shoulders, and it instantly all clicked in my head.
Forgiveness is a process, not an action.
I was extremely happy to hear that she had forgiven me and that we would work to become better people. This is exactly how forgiveness works. Returning to the plate scenario, we obviously know that the plate won’t look the same when it’s put back together, same as in our friendships. After a mistake, we can’t expect our friendships to return to how it was before, but the struggle can build an even stronger friendship in the end.
All in all, forgiveness is not an easy subject. It takes a lot of hard work and time to bring a friendship back, but asking for forgiveness and working on a stronger friendship is always going to be the light at the end of the tunnel.
Let's chat! When was the last time you extended forgiveness? How did it help the relationship? Tell us about it here!
Marissa Parks is a junior at Texas State University in San Marcos. Other than being a bobcat, she is a member of the Human Rights Campaign and a huge fan of HEB tortilla chips and breakfast tacos. She believes in helping women be the best they can be and equality for everyone. You will most likely find her floating the river, reading a book or hiking in Austin.
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