I've been pondering lately on something that C.S. Lewis says in one of his essays on forgiveness. He has several. I'm not sure which one this is. It may just be called "On Forgiveness."
Anyway, he makes the point that forgiveness starts after we have made all possible excuses for the other person, found all possible extenuations. Strictly logically speaking, if some act of another really did simply arise out of a misunderstanding or really was not a fault, then the person doesn't need forgiveness. Thus, to the extent that we "explain away" things that annoy us from our friends (or our enemies), we aren't forgiving them but rather excusing them. Now, justice and truth demand that we should try to discern events accurately, so if we are truly finding extenuations that exist objectively (as opposed to manufacturing them because we are motivated to do so), then that is merely a matter of being fair.
Mentally, when one is angry, it feels as though the psychological movement to find explanations and extenuations for the other person's actions is the beginning of forgiveness. It may be a psychological preparation for it, but in fact it isn't forgiveness. Forgiveness is needed for an actual fault, for actual wrong-doing. So it's when you say to yourself, "Yes, but even so, my friend was still wrong" that forgiveness actually gets started. It's that "still wrong" part that you have to forgive him for.
For some reason I often find this reflection rather freeing. After all, if we were all either perfect or merely involved in misunderstandings or accidents, no forgiveness would ever be necessary. If I never did anything actually wrong, I wouldn't need to be forgiven either. All my apparent wrong-doings could be explained away. But of course, I do sometimes really need to be forgiven. And the same goes for others. So when one says, especially of a dearly loved friend, "Yes, but that was just not right!" one's mental reply to oneself should be, "Of course it wasn't. That's the part you forgive him for!" The temptation, instead, is to go on niggling away at it, trapped in a false dichotomy: Either I find an excuse for this, so it wasn't really wrong, or else I go on being angry, perhaps until and unless I get an apology acceptable to myself, an apology that propitiates my anger. Well, that's baloney. It's a false dichotomy perpetuated by the Devil, maybe even personally put into your mind by your own personal Screwtape. It is both unbiblical and untrue. "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" has no room for it.
I throw this reflection out today in the hopes that it will catch someone at a moment when it can do the most good. Go ahead and forgive your friend (or your enemy) in your own heart and mind and before God, and do so precisely because you can't find any full excuse for his actions. Because you can be sure that there isn't any full excuse for your actions sometimes either, so forgive as you hope to be forgiven.