The subject of forgiveness has often been raised to me and I think that I need to explain what I have learned about the subject of forgiveness over the last 3 years. One thing that I have learned is that when people discuss “forgiveness” what they are really discussing is “absolution” so maybe that is where to start. What is the difference between forgiveness and absolution?
“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.”
“Just as important as defining what forgiveness is, though, is understanding what forgiveness is not. Experts who study or teach forgiveness make clear that when you forgive, you do not gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you, or release them from legal accountability.”
“Instead, forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. While there is some debate over whether true forgiveness requires positive feelings toward the offender, experts agree that it at least involves letting go of deeply held negative feelings. In that way, it empowers you to recognize the pain you suffered without letting that pain define you, enabling you to heal and move on with your life.” (The Greater Good)
I guess the short answer to forgiveness is whether I am ready to let go of the anger….not yet. It is what allows me to approach yet another person about the petition and to call yet another politician or reporter to try to educate them about the sad state of Impaired Driving in Canada. With each person that truly listens and learns, I lose a little of that anger and with each new person I meet that has had a loved one stolen, I guess I gain a little of that anger back.
Really what most people want to know when they ask what it would take to forgive him should be what would it take for me to grant him absolution.
Absolution is forgiveness of a person’s act or sin. And, in order to grant absolution, there needs to be a full confession of the sin. I guess that is what it would take. Not some half-baked, “I’m sorry” that the courts and media would accept but a true “Catholic Church death bed worthy” apology for what he did.
“I’m sorry that I drank so much that I was twice the legal limit and absolutely was not in control of my faculties or my ability to drive. I’m sorry that I was speeding down the road. I’m sorry that I was too drunk to take my foot off of the gas pedal, even after I hit your car. I’m sorry that my Criminal act killed your daughter. I’m sorry that I stood by and let the courts system lay the blame at your feet when you were in absolutely no position to defend yourself. I’m sorry that I have continued to lie about what happened that night and allow the community, in which you have to live as well, continue to assume that it was in any way your fault. I’m sorry that you will have to live every single moment of your life without your precious daughter.”
But even if he said all of that, I would still not be able to absolve him because only God and Gracie can do that. I guess like me, he will have to wait a lifetime for any peace. That’s if he even wants it.