Offenses & Forgiveness

I’ve been a Patty Griffin fan since her first album, Living With Ghosts, released in 1996. That record has the song she sings in the above video – Forgiveness.

More times than I can count I’ve started writing notes for a podcast episode featuring her music. I own most of her records. You should, too. Her latest record – Servant Of Love – came out last September (2015) and has some terrific songs. Beautiful melodies and thought-provoking lyrics. Songs like Rider Of Days and Shine A Different Way.

But let’s get on with it. Today’s not a podcast, but just some words on a screen. On a web page. And I’ll try to keep it really short.

“Everybody needs a little forgiveness,” she sings. True enough. Because we all offend sometimes.

We’ve only got two choices when it comes to suffering offenses. Forgive. Be bitter. One fuels us so we can keep moving forward. The other one weighs us down, drains our tank and leaves us running on fumes until we’re completely spent.

I’ve been thinking of this topic for a long time because it’s such a common occurrence in all our lives. Offenses. Forgiveness. Or the refusal to forgive. And something else…the difficult time some people have in asking to be forgiven. Apologies are tough for some. “My (fill in the blank with relationships like “husband,” or “wife,” or “mother,” or “father” or something else) NEVER apologizes for anything.” I hear it all the time and I admit I don’t understand it. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I have a confession to make. Apologizing has never been tough for me. Good thing, because I have to do it frequently.

Don’t get me wrong. I have plenty of weaknesses…that I’d just soon not discuss at the moment. But apologizing and asking for forgiveness isn’t one of them. I grew up apologizing for things that weren’t even my fault. It just made life easier. Maybe that’s where the habit was formed, but I’m glad. Because I’ve seen so many people eaten alive with bitterness because they couldn’t ask for it or give it – forgiveness.

Forgiving isn’t hard for me either. It started when I was young mostly because I refused to give people the power of consuming big chunks of my life. I positively refused to let people who had wronged me create bitterness in my life. Probably because I knew I needed as much energy as I could get to be who I most wanted to be. I had no energy to spare because my personal margin for error when it comes to achievement and accomplishment is probably so thin.

Offenses are common. We all commit them.

Forgiveness is more exclusive. We don’t all ask for it and we certainly don’t all extend it.

So which are you? Bitter or forgiving? Bitter or forgiven?

Maybe it’s time to join the rather exclusive club of people who make up their mind to more freely ask for – and offer – forgiveness. Maybe it’s time to take a load off your life and start behaving like you hope others will behave toward you. Funny thing about forgiveness and apologies…everybody I know wants it when they’re the ones who are offended. Make sure you learn to give first. I’m betting you’ll find yourself in the receiving end more if you do.

And even if you’re not, it’s the wisest way to go.


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