Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The work of forgiveness 7

Here is a closer look at the first step in the forgiveness process I am using.
1. What do I expect from a person with this kind of relationship to me? (My expectations of a co-worker, for instance, are different from what I expect from family.)
I noticed it was much easier for me to forgive some kinds of people than others. I could not figure out why until it dawned on me that I had different expectations for someone who was, say, a friend, than someone who was, for example, a paid professional.

I realized that if I had few expectations of someone, they were a lot easier to forgive. If I had a lot of expectations, even if I wasn't really aware of them, I found myself struggling to forgive without quite knowing why.

It hit me one day a few weeks ago that I was treating one group of people differently than another. After sitting with this for quite some time, I threw up my hands and said in exasperation, "So-and-So is easy to forgive, because they didn't know any better, but Person XYZ absolutely should have known better."

I had a different, higher standard for Person XYZ than I did for So-and-So. Was that fair? When I looked at my relationship with and expectations of each of the two people, I realized it was. They had done similar things I needed to forgive. But one person was in a position of authority and leadership, while the other was not. I had legitimately different expectations for each person.

That's when I realized that what I expected needed to be a kind of baseline to factor into forgiveness. Knowing my expectations helped me to understand why behavior that didn't live up to them was so troubling to me. It gave me a context and a key to moving forward with forgiveness.

1 comment:

LeAnn28 said...

I think this will be true of me as well, but we'll have to see as I work through the process.