“There’s no point in burying a hatchet if you’re going to put up a marker on the site.” – Sydney Harris
What is forgiveness worth if we are not truly willing to forgive? How are we helping ourselves or anyone else if we just hold on to resentment and anger? I have seen plenty of people who say that they have forgiven someone, but who hold on to the memories of that person’s transgressions to use against him or her the very first time that they feel the need to be angry.
Forgiveness should be starting over. Completely. It should be as if we were meeting someone new, without any biases or preconceived notions about what this person might have done before. Burying the hatchet allows us to focus on the good things that this person does and says rather than on the things that have upset us. And we never should say that we are burying the hatchet if we plan on remembering where it is so that we can dig it up later when we want to use it against someone. In doing so, we really have not forgiven at all. And how can we be helping anyone–ourselves included–if our forgiveness is not genuine or sincere?
If we feel the temptation to forgive conditionally, to mark the site of the transgression, then it is time that we step back and examine our motives for doing what we are thinking of doing. Not only will we be fooling ourselves now into thinking that we have put something behind us, but we will also be setting up ourselves–and someone else–for a great deal of disappointment in the future. The only way to avoid that is by forgiving completely and unconditionally, and if we are not ready to do so then we need to wait until we are.
Questions to consider:
Why might people want to hold on to anger and resentment?
What does “burying the hatchet” mean to you?
How often do you witness truly unconditional forgiveness?
For further thought:
“Keeping score of old scores and scars, getting even and one-upping, always makes you less than you are.” – Malcolm Forbes