11 Mar Forgiveness Part II
As adults we may not physically “hit a person back” but we find more sophisticated ways to get even. We may wait for the opportunity to attack their character or spread some negativity about them.A part of forgiving is giving up that “right” to get even. Ohh.. that is a tough one!
I think most of us would agree that forgiving, though it may the “right” thing and a “good” thing to do can often be very difficult. What makes it so hard?
Sometimes it may be from a misunderstanding of what it means to forgive, so let’s look at what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not saying that the offense did not happen or did not matter. Something happened that wounded us. There were words or actions from someone or some life event that was painful. It happened and we were hurt by it. Responding with pain to an offense is a rational response..it hurt. We do not have to pretend it didn’t happen. It did and the pain we feel is real and valid. Forgiving does not mean the offender is not responsible for their words or actions. Whether they “knew better or not” or intended to or not, their actions caused pain. Whether they own up to it or not, they are responsible for the actions. I love the way my wife works with our grandchildren. I have heard her say to one of them, “Even if it was an accident it still hurt and it is right to say you are sorry.” Forgiving does not mean we are obligated to restore a relationship with an unsafe person. Forgiving and reconciling are two completely different things. Some individuals are not physically or emotionally safe to reconcile with. They have not changed and to be back in a relationship with them is going to be a setup for additional heartache or abuse. When we can reconcile and have a healthy symbiotic relationship that is great, but that can not always happen. Forgiving does mean we have to forget. The concept of Forgive and Forget is really more about Forgive and find healing so we can move forward with life. Louis Smedes, the author of Forgive and Forget said: “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.” Corrie Tin Boom has been credited with saying after she had been asked how she could forgive a prison guard for his part in her holocaust imprisonment. How can you just forgive and forget? “I forgive, even while I remember”