This entry was posted by on Friday, 18 December, 2009 at

[I originally intended this as a loosely-related intro to this post, but sensing that it might take… oh… three months to get to the point, I chose to post it separately.]

I have gone back part time to a job that I used to have, and semi-coincidentally worked along side someone with whom I have some history. To call a spade a spade, we were friends in high school until he basically stole my girlfriend. So, back in April of this year, on one of my first days back with this company and things had been cordial thus far between this individual and myself, and we were working together in a scissor lift 20 feet in the air when it suddenly occurred to me, “Wait a minute, don’t you hate this guy?”

I did of course, for many years. But that was all such a very long time ago… what does it matter now? So I began to wonder, is that all that forgiveness really is, when the consequences no longer matter? I have heard a few sermons on forgiveness and I feel like there is supposed to be more to it than that.

A few years ago there was some tension with another person, who would regularly cause a scene when I was around. Then I would get emails, so many emails: apologies, then perfectly innocent ones, and often ones that really did not make any sense to me. I felt at the time that the best policy was not to respond to these emails. I could forgive each incident; I certainly found it annoying, but also somewhat comical, and in some respects, I think it was more uncomfortable for others to witness than it really was for me. My concern was that in spite of the apologies, I had no expectation that things would be any different in the future, and I did not want to give this person a “pass” as it were to continue acting in the same manner. [I in no way claim that I handled that situation correctly, but do ask you to take my word for it that this person was not rational enough for us to work out our problem in private, like adults.]

In any event, I am pretty sure that “conditional forgiveness” is not Biblical either. In fact, I recall from at least one sermon, the speaker claimed that forgiveness is not dependent on apologies, moreover, forgiveness benefits YOU, not the person who wronged you.

There is someone else who has been on my mind a lot lately. I keep thinking back to the last time we did anything. It was not technically the last interaction that I had with this person, but it was the last time we had a meaningful one-on-one conversation. I regret that day. Not so much because I did anything wrong (although I did), but more because it was the last chance that I had to set things right. And I did not. It is perhaps the converse to the situation above. How do you apologize, not for a single act, but for a complete pattern of behavior? “I’m sorry. I have been selfish. I have been inconsiderate. I took our friendship for granted. I have been less than honest about my motivations and an overall bad friend, but if you give me another chance, I promise to do better?”

I do not even find that convincing myself.

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