By Kiersten Williams
Is it possible to not forgive someone?
- The choice is yours, but the consequences can have physical and spiritual consequences. From feeling out of sorts with forgiveness, to experiencing anger at the transgressor. Yes, it is possible. But, is it worth it in the long run? That’s up to you to decide.
Will I feel it?
- With many things, time and effort can effect change. When that decision to forgive occurs, one may feel a lifting. But, one may not. That’s ok! Dr. Everett Worthington states in an interview that those who forgive may still feel anger towards the transgressor. Please know that anger does not mean you have not forgiven. Forgiveness is a process, as too is healing. It’s quite often not a one-and-done deal.
What if they keep hurting me?
- The repeating offenders can be one challenging aspect of forgiveness, and Jesus responded to a very similar question asked by His disciple Peter. In Matthew 18:21-22, the question is asked, and Jesus responds, “tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times.” Does this mean we are required to be a doormat? Heavens, no! It is hoped that one acts in a way that will call attention to the offender’s responsibility. Then, where possible, distance oneself from the offender.
Does forgiveness mean that the offender doesn’t have to pay?
- NO! There is a reason there are court systems. Decisions have consequences. Forgiveness does not mean people are free from consequences, even if repentant.
They hurt me too badly. How can I forgive?
- It can be excruciatingly brutal when the offenders walk around like nothing happened, getting off scot free. Not ok. And, reality is, that happens. Bullies continue to leave their trail of hurt, and are embraced by good people. They live their seemingly perfect lives in bliss while leaving the hurt to pick up shattered pieces, never to return to that blissful before.
- Dr. Worthington talks about an Injustice Gap. The gap can be the size of a cement break, or as vast as the Grand Canyon. While an apology may help towards closing the gap, there are other things one can do. (Reality is, many will remain unrepentant.) One can seek justice, restitution. One may seek healing through professional help, friends, family, mentors. One may radically accept, forebear, or turn it over to God. There are many avenues to help to close, or bridge the injustice gap which may make the decision to forgive easier than before.
How do I forgive myself?
- Not an easy task, one may find, but well worth the effort. REACH forgiveness, in part one of the Forgiveness blog triad, is one method discussed as a way to forgive others, but it can also be used to forgive oneself. However, Dr. Worthington states, one of the most difficult things can be to accept oneself, for all one’s imperfections and faults (as well all have them). The next step, however, can help through committing to living virtuously. While no one leads a perfectly virtuous life, it is possible to commit and work hard at it every day.
I realize that doing this may be easier said than done – but nothing good is ever easy. Call us at Owens and Associates, we would love to help you process the injustice and help you on the road to forgiveness. Don’t do it for the aggressor – do it for you!