How I Learned to Forgive



For as long as I can remember I have had this uncanning ability to hold a grudge. It’s not because I ever wanted to. It’s because I couldn’t see another way. To me, being slow to forgive was making a statement. This statement proclaimed that what was done or said to me was not ok.

I had a disagreement with a dear friend of mine years ago on New Year’s Eve. We made plans to meet at a restaurant for dinner and drinks at 10 o’clock that night. About a quarter to 9 she texted me to say that she was up from her nap. I take that as my cue to start getting ready as well. At 9:15, she texts again to ask what time will I be there. I reply that I’ll be ready to walk out the door at 9:30 (since we had already agreed on meeting at 10). I end my text with, “Does that work?” She replies, “Yeah.”

It is 10:30 before she shows up. I’m irritated. “I don’t understand why you just didn’t say you needed more time,” I say to her.

Her response: “I was at home lying in the bed.  I knew I wasn’t going to be here at 10, Charlene. I didn’t say I would be here at 10. I agreed with you getting here at 10, because you are you. You do what you want.”

Or something along those lines.

I’m thinking to myself, “That’s why I’m upset! Because you knew you wouldn’t make it here at 10, but you lied!”

She proceeded to blame me, “You always get mad when someone is late.” Actually, I always get mad when someone lies about what time they’ll be there or how far away they really are, but that’s beside the point. She started to bring up things that happen eons ago, even things that had nothing to with her. Our friendship has never been the same since.

I get it. She was on the defense. Maybe that led her to say some things she shouldn’t have said. Maybe I should have contained my irritation.  Ultimately, I felt as though she lied and then threw a lot of other things in my face as if they somehow justified her dishonesty.  I felt she owed me an apology.

A similar thing happened to me when I was in college. Two of my friends went to Miami for spring break while telling me they were both going home to their respective home towns. When I found out they had lied I was bothered. They acted like I did something wrong. Friendship over.

I’ve heard it said that, “I’m sorry” is one of the most difficult things to say.  Most people can’t or won’t say it. They have too much pride or they are too embarrassed or stubborn. We don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable and apologizing requires vulnerability.

Logically I completely understand. Emotionally I feel like everyone should put their big girl pants on. I apologize all the time even when I don’t agree with the other person’s perspective. Why can’t everyone else do the same?

I don’t expect people to be perfect. I know we’ll have differences of opinions and disagreements. When all is said and done I have always needed an apology to move forward. Since most people don’t apologize when they’ve offended or hurt someone else, I’ve lost a lot of friendships over minor grievances.

An apology is an understanding that the way I have treated someone was not in alignment with how they want to be treated and vice versa. In my mind, sweeping things under the rug would be essentially giving the other person permission to treat me however they choose whenever they choose. In effect, I would be saying that I’m okay with it. But I’m not. And so a grudge is formed.

Of course I realize losing a friend over a 30 minute delayed arrival or a lie about spring break plans is silly.  But how do I balance being forgiving and understanding with my right to be treated with honesty and respect?

In A Return to Love Marianne Williamson says, “…our perception of someone’s guilt only keeps them stuck in it.” She goes on to say, “Forgiveness is a choice to see people are they are now. When we are angry, we are angry because of something they said or did before this moment. Relationships are reborn as we let go perceptions of our brother’s past.”

And so it is I have decided to let people off the hook sometimes. I will love them where they are right now in this moment. I will accept their flaws. I will forgive an apology I never received.

While I believe my friends should value our relationship more than their pride, I have decided to value my friendships more than an apology.

Charlene Dior

Blogger, author, podcast, investor, marketer, sister, daughter, pet mom, friend and Christian. Personal growth junkie who loves the idea that a caterpillar can transform into a butterfly! ? Grab my bestselling book From Caterpillar to Butterfly: Transform the Life You Have into the Life You Love on Amazon! Available in paperback or as an ebook.

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