I ran across an incredibly insightful tweet this week, one that I could not ignore or get out of my head since I saw it:
“Forgiveness is not a hot tub time machine. Forgiveness brings about a new reality.”
We cannot go back in time to before we caused others trauma. We cannot undo what is already done. We are still the same person who made the mistake. We don’t get a do-over, and we do not get to cover it up as if nothing happened.
And when I ask for forgiveness, I am not asking for those impossibilities to occur. Instead, I am asking for those who I have wronged to co-create a future in which we are both equal stakeholders. When that forgiveness is granted, the new reality that I am presented with is infinitely better than the one that came before.
It feels simple. And yet, it is so incredibly hard. To ask. And to forgive.
Which is why it was some kind of beautiful coincidence that I was also introduced to a simple way to facilitate such a conversation this week. Via a LunchClub meeting (a free networking service that I have used to meet over 90 incredible human beings during the pandemic), I was introduced to Victoria Yeung. Through her Canadian consulting firm, Nonsequitur, she and her co-founder have built out a series of notecards that are “fill-in-the-blank” versions of apologies:
Along with their incredible Apology Guide workflow, this kind of simplified version of asking for forgiveness makes me think that there is hope for us all to bring about a new reality, together. So, how might we use this process? How might we bring about new Political realities? Or, new Marital realities? Or, new realities for religious tolerance? Or, perhaps, just a new reality for the divided neighborhoods and communities we inhabit in 2022.
MAGA could apologize for assuming that only their votes should count. Leftists could apologize for impugning hard working police that are trying to bring about social justice from within a racist system. Christians could apologize for demonizing all other religions. Average Israelis could apologize to average Palestinians for their oppressive policies.
I fully recognize that it isn’t that simple, and that having a notecard doesn’t guarantee that forgiveness happens. And yet, when faced with the alternative, a world in which we only move further apart from one another, forgiveness is the only way forward. I wish that we would choose it more often.