Are you ready to forgive that awful awful awful person in your life? Probably not. This is hard. This is brave. But stay with me.
First let’s breakdown what forgiveness is not:
- Letting go of healthy forms of anger.
- Allowing others to continue to disrespect your needs and boundaries.
- Lying down and becoming a human doormat.
- Telling the wrongdoer that the past is no longer significant and everything’s fine now.
- Agreeing to become best buddies with the wrongdoer.
- Pretending to go back to normal relations as if nothing happened.
- Denying that you may still have to live with pain caused by the wrongful deed.
- Condoning of a bad behavior or the justifying of an offense.
- Waiting for an apology first, or whether the person will ever be talked to again.
- Demanding of reconciliation. Reconciliation, which is the coming together again of two upset parties, is not necessarily the outcome of forgiving.
- The easy way out. This is one of the bravest things you will ever do.
Stop. Re-read. Because of the “blocks” we have in our minds when it comes to forgiveness, we have some thinking errors—thinking errors we use to cope and not do what Jesus taught and feel justified about it. Read this list with this vulnerability exposed. This is not forgiveness. This is not what you are being asked to do.
Hopefully we just entered into the realm of possibility.
This is what forgiveness is:
- You will let go of the demand for repayment, particularly as you have exhausted all reasonable attempts at restitution or restoration.
- You will free yourself to focus on rewarding relationships and pursuits.
- You will choose to give up any obsessions regarding the wrong-doer, recognizing, instead, that you have better things to give your attention to.
- You will be willing to refrain from the ongoing temptation to insult the wrongdoer.
- You will let go of any illusions that you might somehow control the wrongdoer’s life.
- You will be forward-looking about life, realizing that new opportunities await you.
- You will give yourself permission to make life choices that will lead to contentment and peace.
- You will put boundaries on your relationships, particularly that one relationship who has made a victim out of you. That relationship is badly in need of boundaries.
- You will move from victim to hero in your own story.
So, is the act of forgiving for the other person or is it for you?
Misconceptions about forgiveness:
- I’d just be sending the message that he/she can do wrong and get away with it.
- This would mean I’ve got to bury my anger.
- If I forgive it means the other person wins and I lose.
- I guess I’ll just have to put a smile on my face and say everything’s all right.
- I feel that I’m being required to go soft on something that’s severely wrong.
- One more time I’ve got to play the good-guy role while the bad guys just skip on their way.
All of these are wrong. This is not what forgiveness is. These are thinking errors. And these thinking errors are in the way of you living a brave life. Look back as to what forgiveness is. You can do that.
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” –Mahatma Ghandi
Go Ghandi on that truth! And then there is this truth. There is one thing evil cannot overcome—ever. That is forgiveness. On the cross Jesus declared, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34. Evil had no response back. Forgiveness won that day. Evil still has no response to forgiveness. So if you stay in unforgiveness, evil thrives. Doing the brave work of forgiveness sets you free. It seems crazy backward yet it is the truth.
The journey to forgiveness begins in pain and ends in hope. Pain is the beginning. This process hurts. It is filled with holy tension. The process leaves you feeling vulnerable. This process also sets you free. Remember the truth of what forgiveness is. You can do this.
Source recommendation: The Choosing to Forgive Workbook by Les Carter & Frank Minerth
(Photo credit: Luke Porter, Unsplash.com)