Assistance in Forgiving
Why is forgiving so hard?
We can’t let them off the hook…to do so is to let them get away with it. Somehow this concept of forgiveness - evening the scales - doesn’t quite connect with me and at times, keeps me from wanting to forgive since it is not right to let them off the hook for what they did.
Misunderstanding About Forgiveness
Let’s face it; when we were young do you remember your mom telling you to go apologize to your brother for something you did? There was an exchange.
An apology for forgiveness. Let me ask you – were you really sorry? And did your brother really believe you? Yet somehow, magically, this “transaction” took place.
In reality, simply saying “I forgive you” or “I’m sorry” has little to do with real forgiveness.
We see that misconception in adults with, “I forgave them…but if their house burnt down it would serve them right!” Hmmm, maybe not.
Make it right! Justice! Even the scales! They need to get what they deserve! Why give something to someone who has already taken something from us?
That doesn’t make any sense. After all, we are the ones who are owed.
An exchange. Something was taken or broken, a debt exists (you owe me now), and that debt needs to be repaid, they need to apologize and pay me back for what they did! BUT is “forgiveness” really an exchange?
Freedom in Forgiving
Forgiveness is NOT an exchange – it is about one side of a two-sided transaction. On the one side, you have the person who took something from you; the person who “owes” you. And on the other side of the transaction is you -- the person who is “owed.”
It is not subject to their paying us back - in whole or part - especially since we are talking about a debt that usually can NEVER be paid back. Forgiveness is not subject to an apology. It is not subject to what they need to do or payback to you in any form.
We are talking about a debt that cannot or will never be paid back. You can choose to hang on to it if you want, forcing your will into a payback that can never happen.
The freedom - the release - the forgiveness is ONLY about your side. It has nothing to do with them.
It is not subject to retribution.
It is not subject to their knowing the pain they caused us.
It is not subject to an apology or repentance from them.
It is subject to nothing - the freedom is up to only you.
Wound of Unforgiveness
And how does this unforgiveness affect us?
We build an emotional wall around us under the pretense that we are protecting ourselves from more harm only to discover that this very same wall keeps us trapped in our own ugly world reflecting how damaged we are. We feel as though the world and all of those around us have their act together and it is only us who are so messed up.
This emotional wall leads to either a
1) cycle of quiet despair or
We don’t fake depression & bitterness…we fake being okay.
Unforgiveness is like 2nd hand smoke. We don’t think that it hurts those around us but it does.
Much like any wound that goes unhealed, an infection can set in and cause a new set of problems.
Each time we are hurt by someone or we hurt another, it causes a wound. A wound of pain, shame, and blame that affects and infects us with anger, depression, relationship problems, spiritual separation, and even at times substance abuse. Sometimes, we go from being abused to being the abuser.
When we’ve been hurt by someone, we build up defenses to protect ourselves from being hurt in the future. The fearful past causes a fearful future and the past and future become one. We cannot fully love when we feel fear.
What happens with that wound of unforgiveness?
Those closest to you pay the most
You are uber-sensitive to even falsely perceived slights
You spend your days attempting to prove you’re enough instead of simply living with nothing to prove
While we hold on to unforgiveness, we can’t see what it is doing to us.
Are you that person, carrying around a wound? Although we may think that we are hiding our stories, the ripple effects of our wounds - of our state of unforgiveness - can be seen in so much of our lives, especially in our relationships.
If you have ever felt that way, you are not alone. Without forgiveness, the wound never heals. It festers and continues to do us harm.
These wounds are painful but the wound of unforgiveness can inflict even greater pain, on those around us as well as ourselves.