Is Forgiveness Manly?

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 10, 2010 · 93 comments

in A Man's Life, On Virtue

“No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick — on account of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the new masonry I reerected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has disturbed them. In pace requiescat!”

In the Cask of Amontillado, Edgar Allen Poe paints a haunting picture of one man’s mission of revenge. After bearing a “thousand injuries” and a grievous insult, Montresor decides he must punish his antagonist, Fortunato, “with impunity.” “A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser, says Montresor. “It is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the wrong.”

And so under the guise of seeking his opinion on some amontillado, Montresor lures Fortunato deep into the cold, damp catacombs. When they arrive at a niche in the walls, Montresor chains Fortunato to a rock and slowly begins to wall up the enclave brick by brick, leaving the stunned and confused nobleman inside to die a slow and agonizing death. Montresor’s revenge is complete.

***

The idea of justified revenge is one of the most common themes in masculine literature, movies, comic books, and video games. From the Count of Monte Cristo, to The Punisher, to Red Dead Revolver, revenge is often the driving force behind our most popular stories.

For thousands of years we have cheered the manly and heroic character who personally sought to avenge the wrong done to him or to his loved ones. The more perfect and complete his plot for revenge, the colder the dish served, the more delicious and admirable we find it. When the evil doers finally get their comeuppance, we are filled with vicarious satisfaction.

The great satisfaction we derive from stories of revenge is quite understandable. Revenge played a healthy role for much of our evolutionary history. Within tribes, revenge ensured that misdeeds were punished and deterred would be wrong-doers from committing egregious acts in the first place. Eye for an eye. It was a rudimentary but effective way to mete out justice. And since it was men carrying out this basic form of law enforcement, perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that our brains appear to be hard-wired towards justice.

So if the desire to seek revenge comes so naturally, why should we attempt forgiveness? Is forgiveness even manly?

What Does It Mean to Forgive?

As men I think we often resist the idea of forgiveness both because it seems contrary to the idea of justice and because it seems like an action born of weakness. After all, many people equate forgiveness with letting someone off the hook for their crime and allowing them to get away with wrongdoing. Doesn’t the lack of just punishment encourage the person to commit the same act again and put us in the position of condoning their crime? And if so, is forgiveness for suckas? For whipped push-overs?

But true forgiveness shouldn’t involve ignoring the issues of justice. It does not preclude justified anger. It shouldn’t be a get out of jail free card you bestow upon everyone willy nilly. It is not something you agree to simply to avoid conflict. It should not involve being a doormat who allows someone to hurt you over and over again. It is not the same as reconciliation, and it does not mean that you forget what has happened, nor that you automatically trust a person again.

What it does mean is that you let go of both your ill-feelings towards the offender and your need to personally balance the scales of justice. It’s a process whereby the antagonism you feel for the offender is replaced with compassion.

Sound sissy? It’s not. In fact, summoning the strength to forgive someone can increase your manliness is a variety of ways-

Forgiveness:

Shows Maturity

The reason it’s easy to cheer for revenge in a movie is that typically the plot is set up in a very black and white way. The hero is an admirable and virtuous guy; the villain is pure evil and kills the hero’s family simply because his heart is a black lump of coal.

Of course the real world is rarely so simplistic. Seeing things in black and white is generally reserved for children.

At a certain point the boy must become a man. Maturity involves the ability to step into another person’s shoes and see things from a different perspective. It requires a mind that understands the human condition and recognizes people as truly complex creatures, with frailties, failures, and checkered histories.

You need not condone the wrong someone did, but you should try to understand it, and them. Okay, your dad was a dick, but why was that? Probably because his dad was a dick to him and that’s all he knows about being a father.

Did your friend do something completely out of character? What was going on at the time? Was he acting out of the hurt of his recent break-up?

Sometimes people do wrong us randomly. And perhaps these offenses are the most difficult to deal with. But even then the person typically has a screw loose; something is just not right upstairs.

Forgiveness can change your whole perspective on life and people. We come to see others as fellow travelers in this world; everyone’s walking around with various wounds and various capabilities for dealing with those hurts and angers. They’re not evil villains who are out to get you, but people stumbling around, trying to do the right thing, and sometimes failing miserably. Kind of like….you.

Involves Taking Personal Responsibility and Shunning Victimhood

Being a man means taking personal responsibility for your life. But we often hold onto our grudges because they make for handy excuses, excuses that keep us from finally growing up. We can’t forgive our dad for what he did to us because when we do we will no longer be able to use that as an excuse for our personal failures. We’ll have to move forward and accept full responsibility for our lives. And that can be scary.

When we hold onto a grudge, we hold onto our identity as victims. We let someone else’s actions define us. When we forgive, we decide that we define who we are.

Puts You in Control

By withholding forgiveness you feel like you’ve got the upper hand on someone. You can dangle reconciliation on a string, make them continually grovel with contrition. Grudges thus offer the illusion of power and control. Yet they can’t fulfill that promise.

Because ironically, the offender is still the one holding your puppet strings. Your mental state is dependent on them. You’ve made your happiness contingent on another person: you need to show me X and treat me like X for me to be happy. If we wait until the other person is sorry, we’re giving them control over us-we’re waiting on them. Don’t give them that power. When you choose to forgive you embrace your free choice and agency-no one can make you feel like shiz without your permission.

Grants You Freedom

When we hold grudges and plot our revenge, we limit our freedom. Yes, we get to keep the other person in prison and wield that power. But what we don’t realize is that we’re stuck in jail with them, having to play the role of the ever vigilant warden. You can put someone in the doghouse, but you better make room for two. Or as a Chinese proverb says, “He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves.”

Revenge eats us up from the inside. It’s a pile of coals that we hold in our hands, giving off heat while it burns our body. Once you let the other person go, you’re not just releasing them, but you’re releasing yourself, breaking free from the rotting prison and moving forward.

Allows You to Grow

What people usually won’t say out loud is that resentment and anger make us feel good-powerful, tough, untouchable. And having an enemy and plotting revenge gives our life purpose, a tent pole for our thoughts to revolve around. Where would superheroes be and what would they spend their time doing without an archnemesis?

But this kind of purpose is a dead end and a waste of our valuable energy, consuming us and retarding our progress.

When you come to a place of forgiveness, you can start to find meaning in your suffering. You figure out what you’ll do differently next time and come to an understanding of how the pain helped you grow and become a better man. Forgiveness can become a platform for leaping forward in life.

Requires Bravery and Confronting Pain

Blame and bitterness might make you feel powerful and tough, but they’re often a cover for the inability to face pain head on. Holding a grudge against your ex-wife, thinking about how much of a she-devil she is every time she crosses your mind is a coping mechanism. Continually drinking from the well of anger keeps the pain from the dissolution of your marriage at bay.

We use bitterness as a way to keep ourselves from having to mourn a loss. Once we let go of the anger, we’re forced to confront the pain directly. Forgiveness involves taking a risk; we have to open ourselves up to the past hurt and the potential of being hurt again. And that takes courage.

Creates a Manly Legacy

Perhaps the manliest benefit of forgiveness is the way it enables you to not only free yourself from being locked inside bitterness, but how it creates a powerful legacy for those who come after you. You may come from a family where generation after generation has been hurting each other and keeping those feelings locked up, sickening the men from the inside.

Instead of making the same mistakes with your kids as your parents did with you, forgiveness says, “The buck stops here with me.” You have the courage to acknowledge and feel the pain and then to let it go instead of passing it on. You have the power to weld a new link in the chain of generations, and manliness.

What do you think? Is forgiveness manly? Or is revenge the manlier way to go? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

{ 93 comments… read them below or add one }

1 MW October 10, 2010 at 10:50 pm

OK. But *how* do you forgive?

In my particular situation that I’m in with my parents, I feel like I’ve gotten over the initial pain. I’m not dwelling on the situation constantly. I’m not acting out and treating my wife and kids badly.

I *think* I’ve “decided” to forgive them. I feel like I understand the motives behind their actions. But I have to admit that when I think longer on my situation, I still feel quite a bit of anger. Which seems to tell me that I haven’t truly forgiven them.

So my question is HOW?

2 DF October 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm

The new M. Night movie, “Devil”, has a forgiveness scene. Very powerful.

3 Beowulf87 October 10, 2010 at 11:24 pm

Great post!

MW, “How”…good question. I’m in a similar situation. My pastor recommended this book here, but I haven’t had the chance to get to it yet. IDK?

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/006128582X/ref=oss_product

4 Adventure-Some Matthew October 10, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I agree that forgiveness is indeed, manly. It’s also far harder than revenge (and much less fun to contemplate).

MW, I don’t have an answer, but I do have a suggestion. Since you’ve decided to forgive, remember that. Whenever you think about the situation, remember that you’ve decided to forgive, and allow the thoughts to pass. You may still feel anger, but that doesn’t mean that you have to dwell on it. Allow the thoughts of the situation to trigger the fact that you’ve decided to forgive, and then move on to other thoughts. It’s all about choice.

5 John October 10, 2010 at 11:51 pm

Forgiving isn’t easy, that’s exaclty why we do it. So many ways, society tells us that we are supposed to make an excuse our whole lives, for “an unhappy childhood”. Guess what? No kid has 100% happy childhood. I’m not going to be a societal misfit because I didn’t get that Optimus Prime action figure for my birthday when I was 6.

At some point, regardless of what happened to you as a kid, you have to STOP BEING A KID.

Without a doubt, the icon of Manliness would have to be Jesus Christ and/or His heavenly Father. I’m sure They would certainly forgive readily, in fact one of the most prominent worldwide religions is based on that alone. We should take note.

6 Adam L. Sorenson October 10, 2010 at 11:55 pm

MW, I don’t know the specifics of your situation so it is hard to give any specific advice, but highly recommend the book “Dying to Live: The Power of Forgiveness”
(http://www.amazon.com/Dying-Live-Forgiveness-Harold-Senkbeil/dp/0570046440/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1286769022&sr=8-1)
I think you will find it a tremendous help and blessing.

7 Peter P. R. IV October 11, 2010 at 12:11 am

This is more about the concept of forgivness rather than the actual forgiveness. Try this post. It may or may not help, but I sure hope it does. http://artofmanliness.com/2009/08/23/how-to-apologize-like-a-man/

8 Nathan Powell October 11, 2010 at 12:23 am

Forgivness is NOT forgetting. Our society trys to tie the two together. To forgive is to trust that folks can change their ways. To forget is just impossible BS. Protecting yourself is manly. The same as forgiving. But let’s not confuse these two ideas. You will never forget (hopefully). But we can always forgive. How? The answer is 42. Go from there!

9 Nathan Powell October 11, 2010 at 12:38 am

P.S. Not to preach here, but I just want to point out. The first (chronological) mention of forgivness in the Bible is Matthew 6:12 ~ And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And we have Psalm 130:4 ~ But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

Powerful stuff.

10 Dan October 11, 2010 at 12:58 am

I now maintain a case by case basis. I’ve forgiven in the past only for it to become apparent that the persons never gave a shit about whether I forgave them or not and that to me is unforgivable.

11 R***** October 11, 2010 at 1:54 am

I am a soul of greatness. If you do wrong by me I will forgive, remember and let it pass but you shall never receive anything benificial from my hands that may come from my greatness because you do not deserve it. I have not done anything to you and you have missed out.

Time will prove this to anyone who believes that they have great souls and disappoint those of ill intentions and black hearts.

12 Paperchase October 11, 2010 at 3:15 am

R*********:

That’s an awesome quote! Is that you or someone else?

“I am a soul of greatness. If you do wrong by me I will forgive, remember and let it pass but you shall never receive anything benificial from my hands that may come from my greatness because you do not deserve it. I have not done anything to you and you have missed out.”

Great stuff!

13 Jack Bennett October 11, 2010 at 3:41 am

You can never forgive by dwelling on whatever it is you want to forgive about. Being attached to the memory injury that you believe someone did you is sure to block forgiveness.

Instead, by releasing the feelings of anger and desire for retaliation, and ultimately by permitting the memory of the injury to fade out, you can allow forgiveness to fill the space where once there may have been anger and a sense of injustice.

When you are able to look back at the memory of when someone injured you, without attachment and without judgment, and with no feeling of anger or sadness, then you will know that you have forgiven.

14 me October 11, 2010 at 4:06 am

I believe forgiveness is for ourselves and not for the one being forgiven. I believe “we shall be judged as we have judged others” and I believe revenge to belong to those qualities deemed as immature. It certainly is not Manly to be immature so yes, forgiveness is a manly thing.

15 Riccardo October 11, 2010 at 4:58 am

When someone heavily insults your wife, it’s very very very difficult to forgive. beating the s*** out of the bastard is the only way to ensure that it won’t happen again.

16 Samuel Waltner October 11, 2010 at 5:44 am

Well said. This is actually something I have been wrestling with. Forgiveness is the hardest thing I have ever had to do and continue to do. I have scaled mountains, backpacked for days through the jungle and even climbed a volcano. Those things reaffirmed my manliness but the places I reached forgiveness in my life has given me so much more freedom than standing on a mountain beating my chest because I overcame another feat. My dad was very abusive and there is many times I have found I need to forgive him again. Forgiveness is less a condition of the other person and more about you! Forgive to mentally and physically let go and move on. When you pick up the hurt again then forgive again. I really like what you said about forgiveness is not enabling. Great blog!

17 david d October 11, 2010 at 6:01 am

I agree that forgiveness is a power you hold and have to give to break yourself free from whatever the situation is. I have. Struggled to find answers years. I mean i find it extremely difficult to forgive a father who sexually abuses you as a child. I have horrible thoughts but i guess i have to learn to forgive somehow and this would enable me to grow. Love the blog and thanks for all the helpful comments.

18 Vigilant October 11, 2010 at 6:50 am

Forgiveness comes easier when we have an appreciation of our own inherent unlovliness. The Bible is helpful here in that it gives us a sense of that. In giving his creatures an understanding of who God is we also get a more defined sense of just who we are. This in itself is a gift of grace since we, in bondage to sin, would never come to that point of self-awareness on our own. The whole of mankind labors under the weight of darkness and delusion but we, in our unredeemed state, have no awareness of the fact that without God’s grace we are indeed helpless, hopeless and hell bound. All human effort, apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, is shot through with idolatry, deceit and self-interest, simply bolstering our own good opinions of ourselves. That’s why Christianity should be understood as a religion of both forgiveness (God forgiving us in Christ) and rescue (God’s justice being met in Christ on our behalf). Again, we have nothing to contribute to this great salvation…it is God’s work and his alone, to his glory, imparting new life in Christ, making all things — including true forgiveness — possible. Indeed, how can you hold a grudge and not forgive a person when you know you were once like he is now, ruled by sinful passions, blind to the truth and in bondage to the prince of this world?

19 Brian October 11, 2010 at 7:41 am

I think forgiveness starts with realizing that the people who may have wronged you are just as human as you are as was mentioned in this great post. What it means to me is that we expect things to happen a certain way, and for people to behave a certain way. In many cases these expectations are valid, but they are your expectations. They may not be how the other people in you world see things, and this can lead to anger and pain.
So i feel that the biggest way to finally realize forgiveness is by letting go of some of your own expectations that you place on people around you. Take the world as it is, not as you want it to be and you will be a much happier person. This also helps you to see a situation from another point of view easier, which is a very important part of forgiveness.

20 DaveKerwin October 11, 2010 at 7:45 am

I agree that forgiveness becomes easier when we do not think of ourselves more highly than we ought.

I use forgiveness in both my work and personal relationships. Most people look at mr strangely when I apologize and ask them to forgive me. It opens up a door that was previosly slammed shut and allowed real progress. I also do this with my children. If I spoke too harshly, I apologize. If they are disobedient, I explain it was wrong and invite them to speak (essentially invite them to apologize) and be sure to tell them of my forgiveness if they say they are sorry.

I have found forgiveness to be excessively liberating when a close family member stole money from me. To forgive him required me to forgive his debt and welcome him back into relationship. That was hard to do. But in doing so it allowed mr to release my bitterness and pain, and it allowed him to be loved, something he clearly needed in the first place.

Jesus tells us often that HE will take revenge, and that our job is to let the satisfaction be His. So we trust in God’s supreme justice and we forgive those who have wronged us as an invitation for God to finish the job.

Great post Brett and Katie.

-Dave

21 Greg Binns October 11, 2010 at 8:01 am

Why is it that people turn such topics into a sermon? This isn’t a time to try to “enlighten” people.

I figured I would put in another perspective on forgiveness as was seen in pre-christian times.

The route to forgiveness was through accountability. If a person is wronged, it is expect that the offenter be held responsible for that action and until he redresses the issue, no forgiveness would be forthcoming. If the matter is not resolved, then it was taken to a higher court where it would likely be resolved in way of fine.

This is how I look at forgiveness as well. If I am wronged, I will approach the person and demand that the wrong be righted. If it is, then forgiveness is given. If it is not, then I shun the person. If the offence is great enough, I may take it to court.

In elder times it could well been resolved by the blade or in many cases the who family or tribe would be expected to pay for their kinsman’s actions.

I think the manliness on forgiveness has been greatly weakened by the third party forgiveness “Easy” button we see today.

22 Benjamin October 11, 2010 at 8:15 am

Forgiveness is not the same as writing someone off, because forgiveness is a matter of the heart. If someone commits an offense against me and I say and/or reason, “I’m going to remove you out of my life and never even acknowledge your existence ever again.”, that’s not forgiveness–that’s ignorance and arrogance.
Forgiveness would say, “I shall pardon your transgression against me because: 1.) I realize you’re human, and made a grave error in judgment by your actions. 2.) I’m not going to let you mentally hold me hostage due to your wrong doing.”
Additionally, anyone who is aware of a situation where you forgave someone will likely view you as the “bigger man”, and the transgressor as much less than that.

23 Jason Kaiser October 11, 2010 at 8:21 am

Vigilant – Right on!

Live by two rules and you will do well….
1.) Love God (who forgives abundantly)
2.) Love your neighbor (which includes forgiving him when he wrongs you)

24 Chris October 11, 2010 at 8:24 am

Never underestimate the value of a good shit knocking.

25 Nathan October 11, 2010 at 8:46 am

It’s also a common misconception that Forgiveness is a one-time thing. It’s not. Forgive is not only one difficult, manly choice. It’s a series of difficult choices. Forgiveness is a process that says, every time hurt crops up, I’m going to forgive, not avenge. We don’t forgive people once. Often, in fact, we have to forgive people everyday for the rest of our lives depending on the depth and breadth of the hurt. Vengeance rots and rules you. Forgiveness sets you free!

26 John October 11, 2010 at 9:57 am

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” – Anne Lamott

27 SuburbanRabbi October 11, 2010 at 10:05 am

Thanks Fred for forwarding this link and especially this topic. Forgiveness is hard work but it is also good work…important work…as one comment above reminds us that forgiveness is about oneself (the forgiver) and not the one being forgiven.

Jesus points out that it is the responsbility of the ‘offended’ to go to the ‘offender’ to correct a wrong. Often the offender does not even know an offense has taken place unless exposed to that word or event. Thus, forgiveness changes people (when Jesus ‘forgave’ those around him, many lives were changed!)… as forgiveness is a gift to both the offender and the offended which in most case strengthnes a relationship.

On the other hand, my forgiving someone does not mean another’s behavior will change. it is a healthy choice to forgive someone and then set a boundary that keeps the offender from repeating this kind of behavior. This is not revenge…it is offering up a new arena of safety where again both parites benefit,

Forgiveness is indeed a manly thing…

28 SuburbanRabbi October 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

> Chris… that may be sound advice if you are the last two standing…but if he has a brother and two or three… it just complicates life all the more… see the Hatfields and McCoys….

29 Ryan October 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

Forgiveness also sets free the person you’re forgiving. One of the most powerful examples I can think of is Jean Valjean from Les Miserables. The Bishop forgives him and he truly becomes a changed man.

30 Austin October 11, 2010 at 10:11 am

MW, I don’t know what your specific beliefs are, but for me, a believer in Jesus Christ, I look at Jesus’ words on this topic to help me try to show forgiveness. My pastor spent 10 weeks on t his topic a few years back, and the book he used as an outline was Ken Sande’s “The Peacemaker.” Here is a link for it http://www.amazon.com/Peacemaker-Biblical-Resolving-Personal-Conflict/dp/0801064856/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1286806098&sr=8-2.

31 The Wingnut October 11, 2010 at 10:14 am

It is much more manly to forgive than to seek revenge.

When we seek revenge, no matter how justified we may think we are, no matter how “right” we may in fact be, we are still allowing another’s words and actions to take control of our heart. How manly is that?

To forgive someone is to accept the wrong that they committed against you, and then to let it go. In effect, you are telling everyone that you will not let this act control you. You are giving up the power you know you have, by law and or morality, to take matters into your own hands. To forgive is to reveal the offense against you, and let it sit there in the open for all to see, and release the power it has over your life.

We can’t get much more manly than that.

jj

32 Mike October 11, 2010 at 10:29 am

Thank you for the great article.

I think the paragraph “Puts You In Control” is central to the idea of forgiveness. Often, when people hear the word “forgiveness”, they think softness or weakness. Forgiveness is a very EMPOWERING thing when done with the correct mindset. First and foremost, I think forgiveness should be done to take the control AWAY from the offending party, who offends in order to take some control over our life. If you are constantly forgiving, but do nothing to change the situation, you will probably become the doormat. At the very least, you will be surrendering a portion of your comfort to this person. Forgive, but do not lose yourself in the process.

Another important note based on personal experience:

Serial forgivers (the honorable long-sufferers, aka doormats) who do not empower themselves to change their situation will look down on those who do as selfish, impatient, lazy, disobedient, etc.

33 Craig October 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

One paraphrase of a book that I read quite some time ago, which has since left an indelible imprint on the way I view things… A Chinese Proverb…

A ‘wise man’ will forgive and forget…
A ‘foolish man’ will resent, and remember….

How we choose to react to a situation, sets the men from the boys….

34 Mike October 11, 2010 at 10:45 am

For a Classical approach I find the Enchiridion of Epictetus to be profoundly helpful, he was a Stoic philosopher:

http://classics.mit.edu/Epictetus/epicench.html

“You will lament, you will be disturbed, and you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you suppose that only to be your own which is your own, and what belongs to others such as it really is, then no one will ever compel you or restrain you. Further, you will find fault with no one or accuse no one. You will do nothing against your will. No one will hurt you, you will have no enemies, and you not be harmed. “

35 Diasdiem October 11, 2010 at 10:50 am

Men forget, but never forgive; Women forgive, but never forget.

36 Edge of David October 11, 2010 at 11:14 am

@ MW I can relate and you have forgiven for the most part. Me and my brothers feel the same. The past does not bother us or affect us in any way. But when you think about it it bothers you. I just look at it as my parents are not and we’re not perfect, but they did their best.

37 Joseph October 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

Thanks so much for this post. Forgiveness is quite opposed to the increasing narcissism of the culture, and if men want to lead, they need to grow in this habit. I recommend a website:
http://maritalhealing.com/conflicts/angryspouse.php
The perspective is that of licensed psychiatrists who are informed by Catholic thought. But included in the website are questions for oneself and observations that are humanist (I think). And towards the end there is a list of virtues that one can work on cultivating to help overcome anger. I have found it to be tremendously helpful, both for my own growth, and in my relationships with others.

38 David October 11, 2010 at 11:48 am

Forgiveness… Not one of my favorite topics, but am glad this is the first question for me joining AOM last week.

My fathers abuse was extreme, and I was extremely independent, still am. For me to forgive him would imply that there is trust, so I’m very confused as to how forgiveness actually works. In a sense I have forgiven him and allowed him to be who he is. In my mind, this is not very impressive, and there is no desire on either side to have a meaningful relationship.

I pretty much just keep my grounds, that he is allowed only to the point that I see any meaning. There is so much about him that represents weaknesses, and ignorance, that it’s just not appealing or attractive to wade through all of the problems and errors.

He is very insecure, and won’t allow other people to get to know who he really is, but appears on the outside to be very social, and defensive. It’s a no-win situation.

I guess I have forgiven him, because I don’t deny who I am to him. But it still feels very empty, and I feel as though I actually haven’t forgiven him.

For the time being, I just resume my life with the idea that I will be able to find a fulfilling life as a continuing independent being. The church I go to has no appeal for who I am as I struggle with attractions for the same sex. I can’t talk about the abuse of my father which seals the door shut on my personal relationships with others, and it feels like I’m doomed to ever living alone.

I don’t believe that gay lifestyle is happiness, so I stay away from this, best I can, and church members are very apprehensive of offering help.

So, when in the impossible, dream the impossible. Someday, all of these problems will work out. Be true to yourself and don’t let anyone tell you to go live gay lifestyle because that’s where your friends are. I know this is not true.

Ok, so forgivenss? I try to forgive. I don’t know if I’m able to forgive.

39 Shawn October 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Bravo. Excellent article.

40 Eliot Tedcastle October 11, 2010 at 1:45 pm

To forgive is to love truly (for purposes of clarity, “love” here means only that which is objectively good for a person or the will or action inspired by such; it has no romantic connotation).

So, to forgive your father would be to do what is best for him. I don’t know what this would entail in detail, only that it would mean stepping out of your comfort zone as Christ did, who did not consider equality with God (a very large comfort zone) a thing to be held onto, but took the form of a servant. How you serve and love your father, I don’t know, but I know that it should accompany much prayer that God would make you a faithful witness to your father of the love of Christ so that your father could himself be changed, grabbed, dragged kicking and screaming into the loving embrace of God. That is true love, which shows true forgiveness. Beyond those specific generalities, I can’t help much. Sorry.

Gratia paxque!
“Eliot”

PS To the above who also bore witness of Christ, thanks.

41 Chris Kavanaugh October 11, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Forgiveness can be as much a social mechanism when the individual’s need for redress is to expensive, or inconvenient for society at large. Revenge is a time honoured recourse when all the social conventions, laws and quoted admonitions against it do nothing for the aggrieved and injured party.

42 Josh October 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Matthew 18:21-22

21 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven. [1]

43 Anon October 11, 2010 at 2:20 pm

What so many forget when they say I can’t forgive, forgive and forget, or forgive but still harbor deep-seeded resentment and distrust is what Brett stated so well:
“[Forgiveness] is not the same as reconciliation, and it does not mean that you forget what has happened, nor that you automatically trust a person again.”
When you forgive you don’t excuse the offense, you don’t forget it happened immediately. When you forgive you let go of your anger towards the other party for this wrong. You may still seek reconciliation but you do not seek revenge.
My wife and I are going through this with her father. Things he’s done in the past have hurt her or have been used to manipulate her. Through the pain and some growing, she is able to forgive him for the past. She is not angry with him for what he has done. However, she is not able to reconcile with him yet. There is the framework for the reconciliation in place but it will take a long time for it to come to fruition. As somewhat of a third party I think both of them struggle with this process. She would like nothing more than to welcome him with open arms but knows that isn’t wise yet. He is having a hard time coming to terms with being forgiven but not reconciled. In some ways, forgiving is the easy part: it’s a choice, a turning point on the journey. The journey to reconciliation, though, is a long one.
We are still hurt by her father’s actions or words from time to time. Each time we have to choose to forgive. Each time it’s a step back on the journey to reconciliation. But the backwards steps are getting smaller, fewer, and farther between. Three steps forward, but only two steps back.

44 Alejandro October 11, 2010 at 2:39 pm

It all depends on the individuals involved and the nature of the situation. Some people and things just aren’t worth the trouble. You can forgive, if you want, but you don’t have to forget. I’m tired, though, of hearing people say I should forgive someone, as if I had no choice. I’ve endured disrespect and mistreatment at work in the past, for example, and can’t bring myself to forget because I never want to let someone treat me like that again. Forgiveness in those instances is a moot point because I no longer have contact with the offending parties and don’t care to know or understand their feelings. They probably had none for me, so I’m not concerned about them. There are some actions, however, that are just unforgiveable. If you’ve been in an abusive relationship, or molested as a child, you shouldn’t be forced to forgive the offender just because it’s “the right thing to do.” I feel you can still move on with your life and not let those incidents dominate your every waking moment. Yes, forgiveness can be manly, but it’s still up to that individual man; how he feels and what he wants to do with it.

45 The Punisher October 11, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Talking about forgiveness is all fine and good when you’re thinking about forgiving your brother for taking your car for a spin and wrecking it. But if somebody did something to my wife or my kids, there would be no forgiveness from me. Just revenge. There’s nothing manly about letting your loved ones be killed or violated without personally seeking justice.

46 James October 11, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Having been horrifically wronged recently, something I’ve learned about forgiveness is that it’s the other side to the coin that contains gratitude. Where the one enables you to acknowledge what you have received from others, the other enables you to acknowledge what has been taken from you. Both gratitude and forgiveness are necessary for balance, for sanity.

I think it’s also necessary to point out that forgiveness, like it’s twin gratitude, is not something that can happen once and be done. It must occur again and again and again until balance is restored.

47 Vlad October 11, 2010 at 4:08 pm

It is hands down, undoubtably, inarguably a manly thing. To quote Lewis Smedes, “To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” It shows great maturity to forgive someone regardless of how many times you are offended or hurt. The greatest man to ever walk the earth (who happens to also be God), Jesus Christ, taught his disciples and the people of his day, and continues to teach to this day through the Word of God, to forgive those who have sinned against them, just as Goid forgave them their sins. all of mankind is on the same level-no one is better than anyone else-we’re all depraved and sinful at heart.
However, it does not mean we become a doormat and just let people walk all over us-there must be a balance between the two. There must still be retribution and justice. A lesson still must be taught, but it’s not as though justice or punishment and forgiveness are two separate roads one must choose. They go hand in hand many times.
So, in a nutshell, as hard as it may be and as unwilling we may be to forgive those who have wronged, manipulated, offended, insulted, or hurt us, forgiveness is the way to go. To reflect upon myself: Do I always forgive? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean I should just give up and stop. I have to continuously search my heart and forgive those I feel that have wronged me and let them know. Perfection will never be attained on this earth, but we must strive to love our neighbors as ourselves.

48 BG October 11, 2010 at 7:19 pm

As a Christian, I believe that Jesus died on the cross so that I could be forgiven of my sins. It’s not always easy to forgive, but in the same way that God forgives us, it is our duty to forgive others. Jesus gave his life on the cross so that we could be forgiven. I know I’ll never be perfect, but that’s the kind of man I want to be.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that who ever believes in him may not perish, but have everlasting life”-John 3:16

49 Steve October 11, 2010 at 7:25 pm

Forgiveness isn’t a hard problem for me as a man if the person is truly asking. My problem is that I don’t forget about it. I hold people to that standard from then on.

50 David October 11, 2010 at 8:08 pm

I think I get it now. What I would want for the other person is what I want for myself. If someone hurts you, you can forgive them and want the best for them, and then if you have a chance to reconcile with them, and they are capable of feeling the gratitude you have for them, then it’s a shared experience.

Sometimes, you don’t get the chance to become their friends again, maybe because you or they moved away, or you just don’t see them.

I have a little bit of an issue as to a relationship that you could build from that person. I think being crossed the first time, you would need some type of apology or indication that they would treat you differently on the next go around.

If the other person isn’t mature enough to have an open communication with you, then I still say, to withhold trusting them with a full friendship! It’s not that you have forgiven them, but you have their best interest in mind, but if you aren’t confident of being protected, then you are fully entitled to withhold.

My fathers abuse was excessive and unappropriate. I have withheld parts of my friendship with my father because there isn’t a chance that I would gain from this, and I would be the constant giver! He doesn’t know what humility is, an essential ingredient for friendship.

He never had a good upbringing, and I hate to see him unhappy, but I don’t know how to help him without making him aware of some serious character flaws, and he has built a lifetime of defense.

So, I want to forgive him, think I have forgiven him, but can’t get close to him. I like taking the matter to God, and just praying for the best situation for him, an earlier comment. I am really going to like living here on Art of Manliness. I needed this like a part of life!

51 Ken October 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

I’m paraphrasing an example from How to Win Friends and Influence People:
So after Gettysburg, there was much rain as Lee made his retreat towards the potamac. When he got there, he found the river swollen and unpassable. Seeing the oppurtunity to end the war immediately, Lincoln commanded General Meade to attack immediately. Meade disobeyed the order and called a council of war. The river eventually lowered and Lee escaped. Lincoln wrote a letter scolding him, but never sent it. Perhaps Lincoln imagined what Meade must have been goin through Meade’s mind after witnessing the blood and screams of Gettysburg.

52 Thomas October 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm

I read once that whenever he was well and truly pissed at someone and wrote that person a letter, Abraham Lincoln would set the letter aside and think about the matter until he was no longer angry. He would then dispose of that letter.

He did fire Meade for not pursuing Lee, but that is the only instance I can think of wherein Lincoln acted in anger. Military historians have examined the circumstances and agreed that Meade made the right strategic decision; his army was too worn out to conintue fighting.

53 Steven October 11, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I think the two most profound examples of forgiveness in modern times (Jesus’ “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as said FROM THE CROSS ON WHICH HE HUNG has to trump all) would be:

1. Pope John Paul II forgiving the assassin who shot him in a deliberate attempt to take his life.

2. Imaculee forgiving the tribe that had embarked on a genocide of her entire tribe in Ruwanda, killing every family member save her Brother, who was out of the country, while she sat in a tiny bathroom in the dark for over 3 months fearing every waking moment for her life. (See her book “Left to Tell” for the full, and amazing, story)

I did not have the pleasure of meeting John Paul the Great, but I have met Imaculee. As tormented as one gets internally from the anguish of pain we can endure from those who hurt us most deeply, I have never met anyone with a stronger sense of who they are, nor anyone who possessed an almost palpable inner peace as Imaculee. Is forgiveness difficult? Yes. The more deeply we are hurt, the more challenging it is. But the liberation that comes from that forgiveness is profound, and humbling.

I found this profound sense of peace on my knees at Easter Vigil Mass a few years ago when I was able to forgive a family member completely for the first time. I was hurt, insulted, and in such a way as to harm me deeply in a long-term financial way. That night, as I prayed the Our Father, I was able, by the Grace of God, to see the wisdom of that prayer. “…forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As much as we sin against God, we continually ask for forgiveness for those sins, and then we ask him to forgive us to the extent that we are willing to forgive those who hurt us. We owe God our every breath, and yet we constantly do that which we ought not do, and fail to do that which we ought. How can we expect to be forgiven by him if we are so hard of heart that we are unwilling to recognize that He created us in His image… and that EVERY fellow man is made in the image and likeness of God. It is not our place to judge, nor is it our place to condemn. We MUST forgive, for our very eternal lives are at stake.

David, I cannot know the hurt that you feel, but if you need forgiveness, gaze upon our Lord on the Cross, imagine the torment and anguish that He had encountered to that point, and contemplate that through that pain, He was STILL able to forgive. Ask Him for help, and He will give it to you. You may not forget the pain that your father inflicted, but perhaps you will be able to love him a little more deeply. Love, and the forgiveness that flows from love, are acts of the will, not of the heart. People today have the mistaken impression that if we don’t feel it, then it does not count. Forgiveness is a choice, and as someone else here said, it’s a choice we must choose every day of our lives, for reasons both great and small.

54 Brian Young October 12, 2010 at 12:16 am

Punisher, while defense of your loved ones and family would certainly be manly, I do not see how personally seeking revenge is. What benefit does it bring? Does it bring your loved ones back or reduce the harm done? Does it make the world better? Does it do anything but bring a visceral pleasure to the wronged person? Revenge brings nothing to this world, and can destroy a mans spirit. A man consumed by revenge is unable to live a good life — a constructive life.

Note that this is distinct from actual justice, put in place by society to protect its citizens by deterrence and detainment of known offenders. Should a man assist in bringing an offender to justice, if appropriate? Yes. But the vigilante “justice” you describe is purely destructive.

(While my views here are derived from my faith, I feel that the argument stands without reference to any particular belief system.)

55 David Trotter October 12, 2010 at 12:20 am

When I choose not to forgive, I remain in a position of judgment…thinking that I’m better than the other person. “I would never do such a thing.” In reality, I would…and I do. If I want to forgive someone, the first question I have to ask myself is, “When have I done something similar in my own life?”

Once I recognize when and where I do something similar (not the exact same thing…but something similar), I ask myself, “Do I want to be forgiven when I act that way?”

Of course I do. So…if I do something similar and I want forgiveness, would I be willing to extend forgiveness to the other person? By admitting my own issues, then I’m freed up to experience compassion for the other person instead of anger.

56 Ian D October 12, 2010 at 12:39 am

Great article, a subject that needs to be brought up more often in today’s society. And yes forgiveness is manly.
You can look at it this way, holding unforgiveness toward somebody is like wanting to take revenge out on that person, while are are drinking the poison you intended for them. You are really hurting yourself and some of the time the person you aren’t forgiving doesn’t even remember the offense.

A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to go to Rwanda to help with a forgiveness/reconciliation conference. Dispite what happened during the genocide many Rwandans choose forgiveness. Although step two (reconciliation) doesn’t always happen, they understand the need to forgive in order to move on in their lives. I got to witness people who had their entire families murdered forgive the perpetrators and in some cases reconcile with them.

A lot to think about, but well worth it in the long run!

57 Charles Willers October 12, 2010 at 1:13 am

Forgiveness is very definitely manly. As you state here – it sets you free. Forigiving someone does not make them right, it simply does everything you mentioned here.

58 Calvin October 12, 2010 at 2:03 am

Some time back, I had been hurt very much by a number of people I had gotten to know. And for nearly an entire year after I had moved on from there, I carried that emotional pain with me and it would keep me up some nights for hours going over it again and again. In the end, I started to come to a place where I recognized the need to forgive and move on. I wrote them a letter in which I spelled out exactly how I felt I had been wronged. In that process, I was able to say “I do not wish to be angry with you any longer, and I would like to return to being in a right relationship with you once again. This is what you have done to me, but I forgive you.” I think what helped me forgive was the desire to be able to return to a right relationship with these people and not having these hurts hanging over us. It also helped that I was able to recognize (after an entire year) that even I myself had – up to a point – been in the wrong as well.

I never sent that letter. I recognized afterwards that they probably have absolutely no idea that they hurt me the way they did, and that it could possibly do more harm than good at this time to send that letter (plus, I came across as a really whiner in that letter). Should our paths meet again, I think I would feel things out and possibly discuss the situation with them if it should seem appropriate.

It seems that just writing that letter did me a whole world of good in terms of being able to forgive and let go of those hurts that had been such a tremendous burden. And for anyone who wants to forgive and move on but has no idea where to start, writing a letter (even if you are unsure if you are going to send it, or speak about the matter face to face) can be a very helpful place to start. From there you can decide how necessary it is to send. Maybe you will need to bring it to that person. Maybe it is something that, at the end of the day, can go into the waste paper basket.

Just my 3 cents.

59 James October 12, 2010 at 2:34 am

Forgiveness is a decided process; not an event. It takes time until the feeling catches up.

60 Jared October 12, 2010 at 6:33 am

Accountability is lacking in this world. People must be accountable for their actions. Make a point to let people know you are intolerable of foolish actions.

Grant forgiveness to those who request it – nevery deny it from those who ask for it – but those who don’t ask for forgiveness are not truly sorry for their actions and not worth your time. Don’t waste your time correcting a fool. Forget their actions to eliminate clutter from your life and choose to entirely eliminate their presence in your life.

61 Rahul October 12, 2010 at 6:40 am

Wonderful Article. As someone who has gone through this cycle of anger, I completely attest to the power of forgiveness as pointed out here. I strongly believe that negative emotions are very necessary and some of my best achievements have fed on negative emotions such as anger, jealousy and a desire to grind into the dirt certain people’s faces by doing much better than them. Yet, they are known as negative emotions for a reason because no matter what I achieve, this anger does not go and in fact, is a burden that colours my interactions, perceptions and reactions in my present life as well……Read Ben-Hur and you will know what I mean, anger and the thirst for revenge gave him a reason to live through the years of being a galley slave, yet even after achieving revenge on messala he wasnt happy until he let it go….I understand completely and that is what holding on to past anger creates….you burn inside, not just at the original wrong but everytime you think about it….so in a sense forgiveness is actually you doing yourself a favour and moving on and burying the past….

As they say, saying is easy, but doing tough :-)….Mr. and Mrs. Mc Kay keep it going, you guys are doing a wonderful job, loved the muay thai article as well…it was very well written…

Regards,
Rahul

62 prufock October 12, 2010 at 8:47 am

There is a conflict in forgiveness. It is great to let go of ill feelings and not let past hurts control your life, it’s healthy to be free of the hurt, and it’s mature to give people the chance to change, atone, or whatever. At the same time, though, it isn’t possible to completely let go of the negativity and assume that people will change without leaving yourself open to being hurt again.

We can say “I no longer hold a grudge against you or wish you ill,” but it’s reasonable to learn from the past, and protect yourself from a second blow.

“Wise man say: ‘Forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza.”

63 Davie October 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I agree, for the most part. I’ve always thought forgiveness is the best way to resolve a conflict–for the first few times. If someone screws you over or makes life difficult for you, give them a second chance. But if they take advantage of it and continue to walk all over you, I believe it’s acceptable to take some sort of revenge.

64 Bill October 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

The weak can never forgive; forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.

mahatma Gandi

65 Steve C October 12, 2010 at 7:31 pm

The irony of the day. Today i tried to resolve a huge issue with my mother that i have held onto for about 6 years. essentially she allowed her 2nd husband back into the house after she promised me and my brother he would not be allowed back in. This was after me and the guy went toe to toe when he came home in his typical drunken stupor. Regardless. He still lives at home. So today i told my mother me and my brother were pissed to this very day and she wanted us to forgive her she would need to be the one who changed. Unfortunatly she argued that i need to learn to forgive. Sooo, nothing was accomplished. still hold the resentment. she apologized but essentially said me and my brother needed to change, not her. This made me extrememly angry.

I think i can apoligize though. perhaps i can tell her that i’m the mature, strong one in the relationship. hopefully this anger and hate go away, because i don’t have a lady to call my own because of it.

66 Mario October 12, 2010 at 11:04 pm

Awesome article. Thanks so much for putting out incredible content!

67 Justin October 13, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Mom always said that it “takes a bigger man” to seek forgiveness than revenge. What did Dad say? I was always told that revenge is for fools and is never justified. When wronged, you should seek forgiveness, which is more difficult and certainly more gentlemanly. Fights are strictly for defensive action, so you should learn to strike harder.

68 Jay October 13, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Mom always said it “takes a bigger man” to seek forgiveness. But what did Dad say? He said fights are strictly for defensive action, so learn to strike harder.

69 Jake October 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Can’t really get behind this. I’ve only ever seen “forgiveness” used as a ploy to try and get somebody off the hook, or something somebody who’s done you wrong might say, “I forgive you” for being pissed at him, to make himself look like the good guy.

It lends itself to passive-aggressive behaviour, and is not (in my humble opinion) manly in the slightest.

People who have wronged me in my life get no forgiveness unless they try and rectify the situation. Do I plot revenge or spend my nights thinking about how awful they are? No. But that’s not forgiveness, that’s just spending your emotional energy wisely. Confusing the two doesn’t help anybody.

70 Abel October 14, 2010 at 3:28 am

Although I’m still a young developing MAN, who every day articulates the very definition of manhood I’ve firmly come to this conclusion.

Forgiveness is the right thing to do. Forgive someone, accept what he or she did and try to understand why… BUT do not forget. just because you forgive them it does not require you to give them a second chance. Jesus even commented on letting the town that doesn’t accept the truth recieve the dust on my sandals (drastically paraphrased). get me once shame on you, get me twice shame on me. however you say it, forgive don’t forget.

I also am a firm believer in karma, God, supernatural or whatever definition you put on it. what comes around goes around. somewhere somehow, the wrongdoer to you will get it back. it might be obvious for you to see or it might not, you never know if they are miserable at home lying in their bed… so stop worrying about them and simply better and improve yourself, that’s manly, not just fretting over the cheating hoe or thieving best friend (my case). be bigger than yourself. now to next world problem to solve…

71 Edward October 14, 2010 at 7:53 pm

My goodness, the most common theme I see here is the lack of a basic understanding of forgiveness. There are as many methods of forgiveness as there are men trying to understand how to “impower” themselves out of feeling crappy/victimized/whatever. No wonder its dificult to identify what a true man is when we go around spouting off all kinds of sappy shallow garbage. My goodness, I’m having flashbacks of being instructed against my will by my effiminate high-school guidance counselor.

Oh, And by the way, forgiveness is very much a manly characteristic. A very good human characteristic for that matter.

72 Big Fully October 14, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Perhaps forgiveness is simply not allowing ones self to be troubled by the events that occurred. Forgiveness is standing up and saying that you will not waste another thought on the matter because your life and time is to precious to waste on something that can no longer be altered. By moving on and letting go, forgiveness is not given but passed on by the ones who refuse to be bothered by the acts of the offenders.

73 Steve October 14, 2010 at 11:07 pm

I agree Big Fully, I hold myself to a high standard in my relationship with others around me. I really never forgive but at some point I come to the resolution that I will not let the event impact me in a negative way. There comes a time when you have to stop because it can take over your thoughts. I do agree with the author that it is important to try and understand the events in someone’s past and present that caused them to act this way. This helps you become more aware in the future.

74 Allah October 15, 2010 at 11:48 am

So if I understand correctly, The Taliban is not manly?

Whoa.

75 Edward October 15, 2010 at 12:40 pm

BIG FULLY and Steve, Let me give you gents a lesson in forgiveness. Here’s basically how it works (I’ll start from the beginning): first comes the offense from one party to another. The offended party communicates the charge(s) to the offender and requires restitution or an apology (usually just an apology as they are most commonly not criminal). If all goes well, you get your apology and it’s all over.

Keep in mind that you must be man enough to go to the offender with the charge – I wouldn’t necessarily expect an apology if you don’t.

Somewhere along the way, some psychologist tried to make us believe that forgiveness is a state of mind whereby if we just “forgive” someone who never apologized, then we can be “free” of the pain. Sorry man, this isn’t forgiveness and it doesn’t work. Furthermore, it doesn’t make us superior by thinking our life is too important to be bothered by the offending party. The fact is, we are offended, and rightfully so.

HERE IS THE TOUGH PART. If you don’t get the apology, then you’re stuck with the offense. This means you’re going to have to suck it up and smile through the difficulty and pain from it. That’s Life. We all deal with it. A man has to be able to bear these burdens and move forward without the gratification of an apology. And, and I stress AND, and live life without making others miserable because of YOUR and someone else’s troubles. Comprende? I hope so.

76 bill October 15, 2010 at 5:44 pm

forgiveness is a gift your give yourself, not something you give the other person. but, i don’t confuse forgiveness with forgetfulness. i have had situations where i forgave a person, but didn’t forget what they are capable of or what i could expect them to do. forgiveness allows you to move on and be release from the ropes of anger. manliness is putting away childish things. revenge is childish, forgiveness is manly.

77 Edward October 15, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Bill, I’m confused. If, say, my wife betrays me adulterously and I decide to give my self forgiveness for it, how would that remove the grief from me when the grief comes by her? If the offense did not come from me, how am I to provide myself the forgiveness? The only thing able to appease my sorrow is her sincere remorse, which in turn produces my forgiveness.

I don’t see how your method would produce anything but a false sense of gratification.

And I don’t think revenge is childish. If so, try explaining that to a mother who has her child brutally raped and murdered by a unremorseful killer. I hardly think we would consider her childish for wanting justice.

78 Aaron October 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm

I agree with bill ↑ on his point about forgiveness being a gift to yourself. I had a situation recently where a person that had wronged me and my family came back into my life out of the blue. I realized through meeting him that holding a grudge against him only hurt myself and did nothing whatsoever to him. So I just released my anger because I had already told him that what he did was not ok and dwelling on it was not helping me nor hurting him…

I also came across this article while researching about forgiveness…

http://soberplace.com/negative-health-effects-of-unforgiveness/

79 Big Fully October 16, 2010 at 12:34 am

No one said forgiveness was easy Edward and in many cases an apology would never make what they did better anyway. My mom left my dad for another man that she had been seeing for some time. It was not easy for him, or any of us (I have two younger brothers and we were still under 18 when this happened) but he never sought vengeance and he never will. She will never offer an apology for leaving something she was not satisfied with no matter the circumstances or accusations and even if she did, would that make my dad feel better? I truly doubt it. He was betrayed and left to raise three kids alone, but he will never feel better about life in general if he cannot move past those events. He needs to get over her leaving and accept that is what happened and once he does, I think he will be happy again.

Forgiveness is never forgetting and justice is not the same as vengeance. We should remember that.

80 Adam October 16, 2010 at 10:58 am

Friends, it all boils down to the simple trait of humility.

To refuse to forgive someone is to claim that you have never wronged anyone in your life. To those who would add the “I forgive if they rectify the situation” qualifier, I would add the question, “Have you never failed to rectify the situation after wronging someone?”

Only one man ever lived and ever will live a life without wronging anyone, and that man was Jesus Christ. Yet “although he existed in the form of God, [he] did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped” and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2) Paul wrote in Romans 3 that “There is none righteous, not even one…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Matthew quoted Jesus in chapter 22, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Of course, sadly, many of us fail to forgive ourselves, even moreso than we fail to forgive others. But we should forgive ourselves when God forgives us, and we should likewise forgive others. This is the Golden Rule, to treat others as we would wish to be treated. How many of us would want to not be forgiven for our mistakes?

Even those who don’t believe in Christ can recognize the simple fact that every human being makes mistakes and treats other people wrongly in life.

To refuse to forgive another shows a lack of humility; to also expect others’ forgiveness shows hypocrisy. One who would claim to not expect forgiveness from those he’s wronged I would ask to honestly evaluate himself and see if any such situations actually existed in which he honestly believed the other person was right to not forgive him and to wish him ill. My suspicion is that in most, if not all, of those situations, he would find that he blamed the other person as much as himself, in which case both made mistakes and need forgiveness. Yet even one such situation would be enough to invalidate a refusal to forgive.

Perhaps forgiving also involves a recognition of reality; conversely, perhaps refusal to forgive also involves a refusal to accept reality. Reality being, of course, that all people make mistakes.

One who refuses to forgive another basically claims that he is better than the other–again, lack of humility.

Humility, then, requires the ability to let go of the need to prove oneself better than others; to fulfill one’s need for approval and acceptance by loving oneself and being loved by God. It is better to compare oneself to oneself, and to Christ, than to others.

81 Adam October 16, 2010 at 11:07 am

By the way, David, I am glad that you are not giving in to your struggle with same-sex attraction. I have a few friends who also have dealt with it, and one who has wholly overcome it, by the grace of God. I am disappointed, though not surprised, that your church is not supporting you well. I don’t know where you live, but a good church here in town has a good ministry in conjunction with the university that supports folks dealing with this issue. I’m not sure of how their program works, but their first point of contact is anonymously by email. If you’d like encouragement or someone to talk to, feel free to email me (adam@alphapapa.net). I would be glad to put you in touch with them, or with my friend–she’s completely open and transparent about her story. Or if you wish to contact the ministry group yourself, their address is integrityministries@gmail.com I’ll keep you in my prayers as well!

82 Bryce October 17, 2010 at 5:19 pm

To forgive. To avenge. People should remember that they are only but two optional solutions to a problem. There are times when the manliest action is not the best action and times when it is. There are times when the optimal solution to a problem is not forgiveness even if it were manlier to forgive.

If I find that I have a problem with someone and that problem is not made better by a forgiveness of who they are or by punishing them to a degree that would grant satisfaction I find another way. Often the optimal solution is to remove them from my life. A man need not drive to Rome on a road with a downed power line, avoiding the line every day. He may find another road. I ask thee what could be manlier than knowing best how to spend your time.

Chomp Chomp.

83 Edward October 18, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Big Fully, sorry to hear about your family. That is very heart-breaking. But what is very interesting is that if you read my comment again, you would see that the method and pattern for forgiveness is very fitting for you parents dilemna if, as i said, they were to fullfill the requirements of sincere remorse and forgiveness. If not, then the result is what your parents experience now. But you are right that vengeance is not fitting for this type of offense. As I also wrote previously, restitution (a form of vengeance) is only fitting in criminal matters.

I think whats most obvious is that many people do not have a basic proper understanding of many lifes important issues. And that’s a shame. Especially for those of us who are men with families.

p.s.
Justice is what the violated party receives via vengeance from the governing authority that is placed upon the violator. Therefore, Justice is a result of vengeance, and in criminal matters, it is very good. Perhaps I should say it is very, very good.

84 Edward October 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Big Fully, I am sorry to hear about your family. That is very sad. But if you read my Comment again, I think you would agree it provides the method and pattern for amending the situation via sincere remorse and forgiveness from both parties. But you are right that vengeance does not apply in your parents case as it was not criminal (although it may feel like it).

Justice is what the violated party receives via vengeance from the governing authority that is placed upon the violator. Therefore, Justice is a result of vengeance, and in criminal matters, it is very good. Perhaps I should say it is very, very good.

85 Jason A. October 19, 2010 at 9:05 am

I find it is naturally very easy for me to forgive others for some reason. I am not one to hold grudges although I’ve experienced my fair share of transgressions. However, my problem lies in my ability to forgive myself, which I find hard to do in most instances and nigh impossible in others.

86 Daniel Putman October 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm

On Forgiveness:
I’m by no means an expert but I forgiveness is something that I view as one of the vital influencers if your life goes well, or totally craps out.
First, I would say that Forgiveness is happens in your Will first. And the nice thing about your Will is your Will has no emotions. So a person can Will to do something that they feel very much like you DON’T want to do it. And that is often the challenge of forgiveness to Man up to the things that you really don’t want to do.
Second, forgiveness is hard because it has to do with a lot of pain. And that pain is justified. We are attacked, abused, lied too, robbed, abandoned, all really real stuff. And the goal is not to think about what happened is “not a big deal,” it is real stuff. And I think it is right to say that heal/dealing with this stuff takes time, it takes energy, it takes soul searching and all that good stuff… But it will never happen until a person decideds to forgive. Forgiveness opens up the door to be healed, if a person doesn’t forgive then they wont heal.
Which means that we don’t have to feel “over” something to forgive the person for it, often we can’t because in or to feel “over” what the person has done, we must forgive them first. It is a rational desicion, then the emotional aspect comes later. So if you have forgiven someone, but you still feel the pain, that is okay. you have forgiven them, what is needed is healing from the hurt.
Last, is a old adage that I see is complete truth. “Hurting people, hurt people.” We have all been hurt, that is something we can’t avoid, but unless you try to deal with your stuff you will take it out on other people. So the stuff that has hurt you in the past, will hurt your loved ones in the future. And this is something I tell people a lot, that unforgiveness hurts many, not just you, but your wife/husband, kids too.

So forgiveness is Manly, because it is fighting for those you love. Manly people never give up, or give up on those they love.

87 Edward October 20, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Ok, I’ve beaten this one to death enough so after this last Comment, I’ll be done.
Josh (#42) quoted Matthew 18 which is the corret response considering Jesus is the only true and soveriegn source of determining right and wrong on all matters.

88 KBT October 21, 2010 at 1:10 am

Remember. Forgiveness is not putting away your guns. Forgiveness is choosing not to pull the trigger.

It has a lot to do with judgement and repentance. A man (and I use that term loosely) berated my wife one day. Once I learned of this I confronted him. I did what my dad and other geezers used to call “reading the riot act” and spelled out certain doom for any future infractions.

I could see in his eyes that he was done. There would be no more problems and he apologized to my wife. The incident ended without a punch being thrown and after that he was always respectful.

I chose not to “pull the trigger” which would have turned me from a vindicator into a tyrant. I accepted his words of contrition and returned to him some dignity. To me, that is forgiveness.

A man with a little dignity to save and nurture is far less dangerous than a man who has lost it all. Forgiveness is not just manly, in any conflict it can be vital.

89 NotoriousRoscoe October 23, 2010 at 5:29 am

The biggest problem for many people is knowing when they have the right to forgive. I’ll never understand the parents, spouses, and siblings of murder victims who “forgive” their loved ones’ murderers in dramatic courtroom proceedings. The only person with the right to forgive is the person to whom the wrong was done. In the case of murder, the only person with that right is the victim, who is beyond the ability to provide that forgiveness. The other people in the fading wake of that person’s life are mere survivors, who have no rights whatsoever to forgive.

90 Lowdown October 23, 2010 at 11:46 am

Forgiveness has little or anything to do with the person you are forgiving. It is a necessary element of moving on from a hurt in an emotionally healthy way. Many people hold grudges for years much to their emotional and physical detriment while the object of their disdain and anger has no clue about the feelings of that person and is enjoying their life. Forgiveness releases you from those bonds which are enslaving and unhealthy. The difficulty most people have is in getting over the concept that the protaganist does not deserve forgiveness, but it isn’t about them, it is about you. When thought of in those terms it is much easier. It is like dropping a lump of hot coal you are holding in your hand. Why would you continue to hold it?

91 Lee November 1, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Just a little something to add to the Christian perspective. Also the Dalai Lama is no slacker when it comes to forgiveness.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Buddha (500bc)
“Those who are free of resentful thoughts surely find peace.”
Buddha
“To understand everything is to forgive everything”
Buddha

“Take forgiveness. Two levels here. One level: forgiveness means you shouldn’t develop feelings of revenge. Because revenge harms the other person, therefore it is a form of violence. With violence, there is usually counterviolence. This generates even more violence—the problem never goes away. So that is one level. Another level: forgiveness means you should try not to develop feelings of anger toward your enemy. Anger doesn’t solve the problem. Anger only brings uncomfortable feelings to yourself. Anger destroys your own peace of mind. Your happy mood never comes, not while anger remains. I think that’s the main reason why we should forgive. With calm mind, more peaceful mind, more healthy body. An agitated mind spoils our health, very harmful for body. This is my feeling.”[1] (Quoting the Dalai Lama)

92 Musashi November 4, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I take it on a case by case basis. I have felt fulfilled and at peace by taking vengeance on certain people in the past. It also may have even prevented them from doing to someone else what they did to me, or at least made them understand there were actual, real, non-spiritual repercussions.

I have also forgiven some as well. I usually tend to forgive those whom I wish to become better people, or feel that there is some remorse on their part.

It depends on where one draws the line. I certainly don’t let people who have zero sense of responsibility get away from hurting me unupunished. I tend to communicate with humans on human terms (forgiveness) and beasts on bestial terms (revenge).

93 Scott Brenner November 7, 2010 at 6:07 pm

Forgiveness should be given freely of my spirit but with discernment; this, too, should be done often. I learn to strengthen my spirit by giving it away in the form of forgiveness.

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