I was sitting with one of my clients this week -- one who's changed dramatically through the course of our work together. But one of her biggest hurdles (which she's finally pushing through) is forgiveness, and acceptance of people and their imperfections.
As we were talking, she asked me, "How can you forgive someone when they've done something to hurt you?" And my answer was, "Because the love wins."
And I related the story of how just this week, I had a fight (and not the first one) with one of my best friends who I've known since childhood. She and I have been through every phase of life together, and are extraordinarily close and tied to one another, so we fight at times almost in the way you'd fight with your significant other. It usually goes like this: I'm the one who feels hurt, I express myself (most likely with some anger), and then we're "into it." Often, I've been too sensitive about something; sometimes, we both had a part to play; this time, it was clear she was in the wrong, and she apologized. For a moment I still felt the hurt, but she knew it, and helped to soothe it by saying, "I love you and want you to trust that I'm really sorry, and I wasn't thinking."
Usually, the people we're closest to and trust the most are the ones we inevitably (and most of the time, unintentionally) hurt, or are hurt by. It's because we love them the most that they can hurt us, and it's because we trust them the most that we aren't thinking all the time not to offend them. These are the people who allow us to be who we are, and I wouldn't trade that feeling for anything -- I'd much rather just be me, and trust that someone will let me know if I've hurt them so I can apologize.
The lesson: People do the best they know how. They may not always meet our needs, but it doesn't mean they don't love us.
The bottom line is if you really love someone (whether it's a lover, friend, or family member), you have to get outside yourself and recognize who your person is and where they're showing their love. After all, seeing someone's faults and loving them in spite of them or even because of them is really what love is about. What it's not about is them always getting it right.
For more by Dr. Debbie Magids, click here.
For more on forgiveness, click here.