What We All Need Now Is Forgiveness

When so much is draining, certain words offer restorative power

Sarah Stankorb
4 min readSep 10, 2021


Photo by Taylor Smith on Unsplash

My phone rang, and I saw a name that had come up only once in the past long, hard year. The name that flashed on the screen was that of a friend who I knew I’d hurt — not intentionally, but hurt nonetheless.

Maybe that’s worse, that I could hurt a friend through not protecting her enough at a time when she was already under great strain.

I answered, and my heart pounded.

She was reaching out to give me support in a time I need it with uncanny timing. As we caught up, eventually, she asked my forgiveness, and my breath caught. She said she was sorry for the things she thought and said about me when it all fell apart.

I was flabbergasted. I was the one who needed to apologize.

Finally, I got my words out, and between us, in the mingle between two people asking for forgiveness, a fragile, wounded thing began to braid itself together again.

Over the past year, most people I know reached some sort of breaking point. Between lockdown, political sparring, trying to survive a pandemic, keeping up with work and bills, and finding the stamina to just keep doing it, a lot of folks wanted to tap out. Over a year ago, Tara Haelle wrote about how our surge capacity was depleted.

I don’t know what you call it when your emotional energy has been bottomed out in that way for over a year. But I do know that a well inside me flooded as this door to friendship reopened.

Forgiveness offers such an extraordinary power. It gave me a dose of freedom from guilt and self-disgust. It gave me back my friend.

I used to keep little notebooks of quotations, and one was overrun with words lifted from Gandhi’s writings. I’d page through them when I needed inspiration, when I wanted to pull hope as needed. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong,” is a familiar one. It’s also one that somehow, I haven’t thought about enough recently.

There have been so many reasons to be angry over the past few years. There seems to be just as virulent an epidemic of wrath and outrage as the virus that upturned all our lives…



Sarah Stankorb

Sarah Stankorb has published with The Washington Post, Marie Claire, Glamour, O, and The Atlantic (among others). @sarahstankorb www.sarahstankorb.com