Forgiveness. What an interesting concept so influenced by culture. For some cultures, forgiveness is an unknown concept due to being so intensely linked as a community — what one does to one, one does to all. For other cultures, forgiveness plays no role in life. Eye for an eye. In our culture, it seems to mean, “If I forgive them, that means that I am saying what they did is ok.”
As someone who used to struggle under that misconception, I didn’t realize how trapped I was by my own desire for the other person to admit they were wrong (I didn’t need a get on your knees and beg kind of apology — although, at times I thought it was merited, but just an acknowledgement of wrong-doing.) It took some seriously tough to let go of situations (as in I was still seething and they were off tra-la-la-ing) for me to realize that the unforgiveness was only hurting one person. Me. And I was so good at my social face that the offender rarely realized that they were living in the cold, icy confines of my unforgiveness glacier. (In fact, I think they probably felt fairly tropical because I did my best to avoid them.) I finally came to understand that forgiveness isn’t about freeing the other person, its about freeing myself.
After I realized why it was so important to forgive (so I could tra-la-la too), I had to come to grips with my firmly held desire for justice and my unwillingness to do anything that would even remotely encourage that kind of awfulness to continue. It took quite a bit of mental wrangling before I finally got it! I could trust God to take care of any just desserts that needed dishing and move on with my life (I mean look at what he did to that nasty Pharaoh person who wouldn’t let His people go free because they were great pyramid slaves.)
Leaving me with my final stumbling block — letting go of my belief that forgiveness meant forgetting and going on as before.
I don’t know how it happened, but one day a light bulb went off for me. Just because I forgive someone, doesn’t mean I have to let them do it again. I could still draw boundaries, just like I did in my normal day to day world and if I chose to not have relationship with the dastardly do-er anymore, I didn’t have to. It all came down to understanding that I choose how people treat me and I don’t have to choose to let that person do his or her dastardly all over my life.
Break ups can be nasty grudge incubators (as can day to day relationships), so I thought that bringing up forgiveness might be important. Does anyone have any helpful suggestions you use to help you move past unforgiveness and into forgiveness? Any situations where you just don’t think forgiveness is an option? You just woke up a natural forgiver and don’t see what all the fuss is about?