Lesson 12: Forgiveness can’t be bought

Money can buy a lot of things, but not the things that most reasonable people would consider to be of actual value.  The gifts are nice.  Lots of people love surprises.  Thoughtful gestures are almost always welcome.  They are great for special occasions and even better when done randomly, and for no other reason than to let your significant other know that you were thinking about them.  Like everything in life, know the limits.  Be sure you can see the line and make an effort not to cross it.

Gifts should never be used as an apology, though there are times when the gesture can serve a helpful purpose.  Still, this should not be a constant thing.  There comes a point when your “thoughtful gift” loses the intended meaning.  It can portray the wrong message if you are having to do this frequently.  Sure, flowers accompany an apology quite well, but the time will come when the offense is repeated and your thoughtful gift starts indicating that you might actually believe that forgiveness can be purchased.  That there is a price tag on apologies and so long as you can foot the bill, all will be forgiven.

There comes a point when your apologetic gifts stop being niceties and start to seem like a crutch being used to get you from one bad situation to the next.  The context might start to feel like maybe you believe that being a jerk can be balanced out by buying presents.  There is no excuse for being a jerk and there is less for someone who believes that forgiveness can be bought.  There is no excuse.  There is no quick fix.  There is no present or surprise.  There is no price tag or four-wheeled beauty that can make up for being a jerk.  Words cannot be unspoken.  Actions cannot be undone.  Hurtful exchanges, last.  There is no fix.  That sting will always be there.  The pain will always be remembered.  

The only way to remedy the tragedy that follows an unforgivable word or action is not to have said or done it in the first place.  Think before you speak.  Think before you act.  It can be difficult in the heat of the moment, when tempers are flaring.  I am no exception.  No one is immune from making mistakes.  Sometimes, the best course of action is to walk away and cool off.  Revisit the conversation once everyone has had a chance to calm down and think it over.  It shouldn’t be difficult, but it is.

I don’t understand why it is so difficult.  I wish I had more answers.  Being kind, loving, caring, and affectionate, in theory, is so much more simple.  I am not saying that you cannot be authentically sorry and forgiveness is never given.  I am saying that those flowers, the box of chocolates, a nice new convertible, are not enough to take away the sting.  They may say they forgive you, and they may even mean it.  That does not change what has happened.  They will always remember.  And so will you.  

It is your actions and words from that point forward that make up the path to forgiveness.  Apologize, of course, and flowers are the perfect gift for an apology but don’t make the mistake of thinking it ends there.  The price of forgiveness is the commitment to never saying or doing whatever it was again and letting the time increase without it ever happening again.  Words and actions are the true currency, and being better is the only price on the price tag for forgiveness.

Takeaways:

  1. Gifts should never be the apology
  2. Being kind, loving, and caring is simple and easy
  3. Don’t let gifts become crutches
  4. Think before you speak
  5. Words and actions are the true currency

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