Tit For Tat

In the world of repentance and forgiveness, both parties have to be willing to meet somewhere in the middle, even if you cannot hit the bull’s eye with a Peterbilt.

Weighing the Offense

scaleHumans tend to grade bad behavior. Some behaviors are considered more egregious than others, say comparing murder and lying. While some would argue both are killing in their own rights, we view the level of the offense as it pertains to the hurt it causes us.

Bring the sorrow.

When the offender comes to you with I’m sorry, you need to gauge the level of remorse. Is the offender:

  • Truly contrite?
  • Honestly apologetic?
  • Willing to rectify the wrong?
  • Going to cease and desist?
  • Worth the effort?

Being Sorry

Now, you know I’m sorry is not always an apology. If you feel like the offender is remorseful, determine if it is possible to right the wrong and if the behavior will likely reoccur. You have to make a decision.

What is it worth?

How about a simple math equation?

(Apology+change) – level of offense =_______

If the answer is a positive number, chances are good this offense is forgivable. If it is negative, it probably is a deal-breaker.

Forgive me, please.

You decided you could accept the apology and the penance. To put closure to the matter: Forgive and heal and forget.

  • Forgive is easy.
  • Heal takes time and energy and the cessation of the behavior.
  • Forget, well, at least try it.


The two definitions of forgive which apply are:

1. a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital for

2. to cease to feel resentment against (an offender) – pardon”

Truly, it is not as simple as simply saying I forgive you. It means giving up the hurt, giving up carrying it around, giving up the opportunity to use it as ammunition in your next fight.


When you decided if forgiveness was worth it, you had to value the amount of hurt you felt. This was not to decide whether the offender was worthy of forgiveness, but your own capacity to forgive.

No one requires you be perfect and forgive entirely… immediately. Getting to a place where you will not toss the offense like a hand grenade is no small feat. After all, admissions of wrongdoing naturally put up our guard against repeat offenses.


Let’s put it in pop-culture terms: Don’t hate the player; Hate the game. When you have been hurt, forget the pain, but remember the behavior surrounding the offense. Protection from future hurt is not the same as remembering the pain as a weapon.

Learning from being hurt is important. What you remember is more important:

  • This offense hurts me this much.
  • I did not contribute to the commission, therefore I can bear no guilt in it.
  • I did contribute to the commission, therefore I must not _______ in the future.
  • My view of the human race changed because of this.
  • My defense against this is now different.

The last one is the most complex part of forgetting. You must use the hurt to adapt to your environment, protect yourself from future pain and not attribute the changes to anyone but your own experience. From the innocence of recognizing your own forgiveness, you can rebuild fractured trust.

I cannot.

When the answer to the simple equation is negative, forgiveness is not as healing. Still too much of the hurt associated with the transgression is left behind to honestly embrace forgetting. Forgiveness is not impossible, but it is very different.

Rather than a rebuilding of trust, you engage in every/some/any one else. The offender has taught you a valuable lesson, even if you cannot or do not feel able to trust your relationship to continue.the end

The End

Ending a relationship does serve as forgiveness. The distance creates space for healing and forgetting without the pressure of a constant reminder of the transgression. Even though it is harsh penance for the offender, often it is the most cathartic relief for the offended.

Study Up

There are no absolutes when talking about the level of hurt and how to deal it. Be mindful to judge each behavior on its own demerits. During the process, you just may discover your new defense offers your offender a different type of latitude.

Look before you bail.

Before throwing in the relationship towel, look closely to see if the bull’s eye is now in view of the windshield. Every time we are hurt, we change. In that change grows our power to forgive.

Forgiveness frees both the offender and the offended.” ~Momma

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Leave a comment


  1. Alexandra Heep

     /  December 7, 2011

    What an interesting way to break it down. This comes at an interesting point in my life too.

    • You are not alone there, Alex. This has been a poignant look into the affairs of many close to me. I hope it helps you look at things in a better light. Thank you for coming by and commenting. Red.

  2. A nicely presented posting Red
    and thank you for all of your fine offerings 🙂

    I hope that you are having a nice day today 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

  3. bear

     /  December 8, 2011

    As I have learned from my transgressions forgiveness is important. To hold anger toward someone who has lied cheated or ripped you off in some fashion is to say the least hard on the soul. A a pastor friend of mine once told me always find it in your heart to forgive because someday you may need forgiveness. I had actually forgotten those words and what they actually mean until recently when someone in my life who i love with all my heart lied to me.Not only a lie but a stream of them that was compounded by actions.Most would have written this person off but I chose to hold on tighter to show this person that it is possible to be forgiven…I WILL NEVER forget but I do forgive. I feel better to be able to forgive.and i have enough faith in this person that I believe it won’t happen ever again. REMEMBER judge ye not lest ye be judged. I do think that judgement plays a large part in forgiveness. And wherever you are pastor SAM I miss you. Bear

    • A big part of forgiveness is the faith it takes to continue a relationship on the promise borne of remorse. It takes courage to forgive. It takes grace to forget. And if you cannot be graceful, at least forget the hurt after it heals. Sounds like Sam was a good one. Red.

  4. Unless the relationship is permanent (eg children, dogs, fish, the tv), then you must forgive and try to forget. When a stranger or someone you have been dating for a short while is caught in a major lie or at stealing from you, then that is a whole new ball game. In these cases, forgiveness is only given where your feeling of safety has not been compromised. The problem is that once you are lied to by someone, every time they speak you wonder if they are lying again, and a relationship can’t flourish under this type of duress.

    • No it cannot flourish. But as you point out, there are times to stick it out. Over time, and one truth at a time, trust can be rebuilt. The hurt party has to be able to recognize the effort and acknowledge (at least in the mind) the success. Red.

  5. The only problem I have with sorry is as genuine the ‘perpetrator’ may be at the time they just go right back out and do it again.

  6. Love it. Forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the forgiven and has nothing to do with saying what the other did was ok. It is a very misunderstood concept. I choose to forgive (with time of course) because I don’t want to allow others to change who I am.

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