04/09/2012 07:44 am ET | Updated Jun 09, 2012

Forgiveness That Forgets: Seeing Our Mistakes Through Our Eyes

Throughout the course of our lives, we are subject to fail -- sometimes with notice, sometimes without. More times than not, as human beings we inherently seek to do the right thing. But occasionally, because of some unforeseen turn in this superhighway called life, we fail to recognize and adhere to the signs warning us of dangerous curves ahead and plow headlong through the straw bales, catapulting off the cliff like the racer in the recent Geico pig commercial.

Regardless, the damage is done. Some of us walk away unscathed, some with scrapes and bruises, while others of us wind up in an emotional intensive care unit for months or even years trying to heal the carnage left in our wake. Those in our inner circle are just as devastated and emotionally broken and bruised, for we have failed to live up to their lofty expectations. They tend to hurt more because of what we've done to them, all the while hurting less because of the damage we've done to ourselves and others.

Family and friends are for the most part understanding, but if we screw up royally a few, I've found, are extremely quick to judge, very slow to listen and slower still to forgive. We have breached the sacred wall of trust and proceeded to taint the very essence of our being in their eyes. I've got it -- we screwed up and no one knows that anymore than we do. We will carry the scars indefinitely, as reminders, I hope, to not repeat the same mistakes again.

Life happens. My question is: How can we find true and lasting forgiveness? Can you look past the sometimes rapidly-imposed judgments and attempt to see through our eyes why things happened as they did? Can you weigh the good in us and through empathy attempt to see more clearly just what drove us off the cliff? Can you reflect on the good in us and envision through our eyes the "just what were you thinking?" mentality that created our momentary lapse in judgment?

If you can't, then total and complete forgiveness may never occur, because somewhere in the back of your mind you have buried it in a shallow grave, waiting for the chance to resurrect it at the most inopportune time. No one better than ourselves knows our weaknesses. No one wants genuine forgiveness any more than we do. Our remorse, however, takes a back seat to a "just what will they do next?" type of attitude. Moving on, forgetting and forgiving our miscues becomes increasingly long on want and significantly short on mending.

We're not perfect, and to my knowledge no one except Jesus ever was. But hopefully we're not Judas Iscariot either. We're human beings and thus subject to make mistakes, especially when raw emotions come into play. Think back on all the dumb stuff that you may have done throughout the course of your life. Did not overwhelming, emotional responses play some role in your linage of occasional dumb stuff? It surely has, at my most vulnerable times, wrecked havoc on mine.

Just imagine being an introvert, with no one to talk to or share the intimate details of your life with. Over time, they resemble somewhat of a rumbling volcano, anxiously waiting and biding its time until some nondescript trigger sets it off. Once it goes, it goes and there's no stopping it until all the pent up energy has been spent. Are we still at fault? Of course we are to some degree. Are we now deemed unworthy of lasting forgiveness because we failed to open up beforehand and divulge the deep dark secrets that were hidden in our heart? I dare say not.

Extroverts, on the other hand, stand up, yell, scream, rant and rave about what's going to happen if something doesn't change. Were we not listening or did we think they were just blowing smoke, like a hundred times before? Let it come as no surprise then that regardless of the forewarned circumstance, extroverts still fail just as soundly as introverts -- and they do so, even with notice.

So begs the question: Can you therefore find it in your heart to forgive us of the brokenness? Can you hurt with us and empathize with us, realizing that in the grand scheme of things no one feels the sadness any more than we do? Can you place yourself on the inside looking out and glimpse, if only for a moment, some of the dynamics that caused us to careen off course rather than stay on our "normal" track?

I believe long-term forgiveness will come with an understanding and forgiving heart, one that hurts deeply for us and with us, and one that moves on, as well. But it may require forgiveness as seen through our eyes to not dredge up the past again.

Psalms 103:12 states: As far as the east is from the west, so far has He (God) removed our transgressions from us. If you're at the crossroads, in trying to receive or give forgiveness, there is no greater model in which to follow. When we forgive, we must forget the mistakes. Otherwise, we have not truly forgiven.

How have you found genuine forgiveness in the course of your life? How have you managed to forgive and forget and look beyond others momentary failures? I'd truly like to hear from you. We're all swimming up this stream together.

For more by David Wilson, click here.

For more on mindfulness, click here.

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