Nearing completion of my 72nd year on this planet, I find it ever more important for me to keep as clean a slate as possible. And yet, with so many years having passed, it would be impossible for me to find all those who I may have harmed in order to apologize and ask for forgiveness. I also would not require anyone who feels that they may have harmed me to need to ask for my forgiveness.
I have always been a fairly independent guy and do not like to be beholden to anyone. For this reason, I feel it would be terribly cruel to make a condition upon forgiveness to be only granted by the transgressed. And I certainly would not want anyone who I have harmed to have to wait for my apology in order to make themselves whole.
I am reminded of a line from the very first prayer I learned. It is from The Lord’s Prayer, and there are numerous translations, but the one I learned, said, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
The apostle Mathew explains further in Mathew 6:14-15:
“For if you forgive men their trespass, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Personally, I would exchange “your heavenly Father” for “existence”, for “the whole” but I feel there is much truth being conveyed here. Even if you eliminate any reference to “your heavenly father” or even “existence”, it seems clear that you will never be able to forgive yourself if you are not able to forgive others. They seem to be glued together, and inseparable.
Now here is the hard part, but it does seem to be the case. My wholeness, my at peaceness, is not dependent upon anyone else’s forgiveness, but it is wholly dependent on the unconditional forgiveness that I, myself, give. That means, it is entirely possible, for someone who feels they may have hurt me some time in the past to still be feeling the guilt of that, even if I have forgiven them completely. It also means, that it is possible, that someone who I hurt in the past is still feeling the pain of that hurtfulness even if I have forgiven myself in the act of forgiving others. And then it follows, that the only way for the one still feeling pain to be whole even though the transgressor has healed, is for them to unconditionally forgive those who trespassed.
If on the other hand as some suggest, that I can only be whole if there is a reckoning with those who have hurt me, then I am giving complete power over my own well being into the hands of those who have already shown a propensity to harm me. No, I chose not to hold myself captive, and so, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”