We all have them. Those moments a few weeks ago, in our first grown up job or when we were a cocky high school kid, that made us want to run and hide. Even now, maybe years later, our actions make us want to puke. Maybe we were reckless, arrogant or rude. Maybe we didn’t have our own baggage sorted out and it spilled over onto someone who didn’t deserve it. Maybe we had power as a parent, boss or lover that we misused in our immaturity.
And yet, they forgave us. Even more than that, they figured out how to look past a moment and love us for the person we are. They decided, sometimes instantly and sometimes after a whole lot of wrestling, that we were more enjoyable than the pain we caused. After their wounds healed, they didn’t remind us or use it against us. They don’t use it as their “get out of jail free” card or parade us through the virtual town square of social media.
Where would we be without forgiveness? How thankful are we that they did not let our mistakes be the end of a marriage, a professional opportunity or a friendship?
Acknowledging Their Feelings As a Memorial To Forgiveness
Everyone says thank you at the moment where they are let off the hook. There’s never a time where we’re more naturally thankful when we’re caught red-handed, have damaged someone in huge ways and instead of rejecting us, they embrace us.
While our gratitude matters then, few things have the ability to repay them for their generosity like thanking them years later. Thanking them long after the issue has dissolved into the long history of a relationship or is buried under so many good moments that something that once could have ended a relationship, now just looks like a small bump in the road.
When we say thank you again today for something long past, we celebrate a painful truth for them. We honor the fact that they enjoy us so much that even when common sense and self-preservation should have told them to run away, they stayed. Our saying thank you all these eons later tells them that they made the right choice, that they’re not a fool for betting on us and that we value them and that moment enough to never forget it.
Don’t worry… telling them thank you won’t dredge up the old hurt the way you think it might. Almost always, gratitude for forgiveness we were shown years ago is brushed away and dismissed by the person who forgave us. They’ll try and tell us that it’s years ago or that things have changed so much since then or that we were just a kid. But, don’t let them off the hook. Tell them you know how much strength that took, how much it mattered and how you are a better person today because they were the bigger person back then.
It’ll matter to hear. They’ll think about it all day. Your gratitude now will provide healing for them and will serve as a reminder for you when it is your turn to forgive, that being a human can be just as hard some days as living with another human.