One writer’s journey through learning about the many forms forgiveness can take.
We’re living in a time of rage, anger, censure, and punishment online, where any misstep is treated grievously with heaping helpings of shaming. The Internet often serves as an outlet for anger, a way to redress perceived wrongdoings, but it also, over time, leaves more anger than it vents. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is less likely to be found trending on Twitter; it takes work, or at least that’s what journalist Bettencourt thought. An especially humiliating and public dissolution of a relationship left her feeling justified in embracing nonforgiveness wholeheartedly, but she began to wonder whether maybe there might be something to a different approach. She became aware of the story of Azim Khamisa, whose 20-year-old son was shot and killed. Somehow, almost immediately, Khamisa began moving toward forgiveness: “There were victims at both ends of that gun,” he told a friend. Of course, the intention toward forgiveness was started as just that, and it did little to salve the pain, anger, and grief that plagued him initially. But the process led to salvation of his mind and soul. Bettencourt was naturally interested in finding her own peace of mind, so she began to explore other stories of forgiveness against all odds. She sees the intersection of forgiveness and redemption in the process of asking for forgiveness for herself, and she has learned that forgiveness requires restoring trust not just in others, but also in ourselves. Forgiving one’s parents, not only for things they have done, but also for the things they should have done, presents the difficult challenge of accepting shortcomings we often see in ourselves.
Bettencourt takes a broad view of opportunities small and large for forgiveness, and in doing so, she provides hope for a way forward that focuses more on acceptance than retribution.