We are a second chance, forgiving culture. It doesn’t matter if you’re leaving stains on dresses, dangling your kid from balcony windows, taking steroids, or pitting dogs in combat. We’re quick to forgive. At least if you’re a celebrity, what about the rest of us?

There is a line in the Lord’s Prayer that goes “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” At least part of the idea of forgiveness is that it frees you. I’m not sure who said it, it may have been Oprah, but it is said that “refusing to forgive someone is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die.”

To move on, you have to have closure. It doesn’t mean you forget the offense: trust has broken, and all sides need to learn from it. However, asking forgiveness also opens dialogue. It takes courage to forgive another. Even moreso in those occasions when you have to forgive people who haven’t asked for it: there are times when, in order to no longer be a victim and to not let another have the last word over you or your life, you have to forgive those who have harmed you.

We’d like to see some sort of contrition when folks ask for forgiveness. The “I’m sorry”/”I’ve wronged you” is the first movement in the symphony of forgiveness. It’s important to express an understanding of our guilt.

Another movement involves repentance. When Tim Hardaway repented for his “I hate gay people” admission, deeds had to follow. He turned his back on his old way of doing things since repeating his mistake would only numb him to them. He sought re-education on his ideas, admitting fault, failure, and inadequacy. Because asking for forgiveness is humbling. You are at someone else’s mercy in view of your life and you realize that you aren’t in control.

Forgiveness is a gift. Forgiveness is a journey. Forgiveness is never easy, but we all would want a second chance.

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