As we approach the High Holidays, the theme of forgiveness comes up often. Sometimes we find it hard to live the phrase most of us grew up with, “forgive and forget.” Because, as we get older, the more experiences we have that are harder to forgive. And there are some things we find it impossible to forgive.
If I’m honest, there are some things that I am not sure how to forgive. But in order to move on, something has to change, because the anger or pain that remains is not sustainable. But sometimes, a person is no longer alive or just isn’t safe to be around. In recovery, we use the term “living amends,” which is living your life in a better way to reflect changes you’ve made. And that is how I try to look at forgiveness. Whether I’m asking for forgiveness or trying to forgive something that happened to me, I also have to look at myself and take accountability for whatever part I played in the situation. And if there is something I can change that will benefit my life and relationships, I try to do it. This helps me be easier with myself and other people. It is also true that forgiveness is about doing it for ourselves, not the other person. And at the end of the day, I choose to forgive others (and myself), because the version of myself that I am today wouldn’t have been possible without the mistakes, pain, and experiences that got me here.
Ashley Franklin, LMSW is a licensed social worker with Jewish Family Service. You can reach Ashley at 615-354-1662.