This past weekend in our teaching time I talked about some important things that forgiveness is not.
1. Forgiving is not forgetting. With time that might happen–in fact, I hope it does. However, forgetting something quickly when you have been caused deep pain just means you have a bad memory.
On the flip side . . . forgiving and then reminding the person of how they have wounded us is really not forgiving at all.
2. Forgiving does not release someone from the consequences of their actions. Often there are legal, financial or relational ramifications to a damaging incident or behavior. Even though God showed mercy to Cain when he killed his brother Abel (Genesis 4), God still exiled Cain from the land.
On the flip side . . . forgiving does mean that I give up my right to demand revenge.
3. Forgiving does not always mean reconciliation. God always desires healthy, healed relationships. However, there are some circumstances (Ie. Sexual or physical abuse) in which, even though you have forgiven the person, you should stay away from them. Just because I forgive someone does not mean I have to meet them for coffee at Starbucks every Tuesday morning at 7.
I needed to hear your message on Sunday. I am going to try to forgive, but it is difficult to know that the person I need to forgive shows no remorse whatsoever. I do realize that to be able to forgive is to be able to move forward.
How do you forgive someone who, not only shows no remorse, but continues the action?
The problem with the action was communicated to them, the effect on you has been communicated to them and they continue to do and say the same things?
How does one forgive that? That shows the person has no regard for you or the pain they are responsible for.
Wow–very tough situation. I would suggest that you put some distance between yourself and this person who is injuring you.
If it’s not possible to put some physical distance then perhaps at least some emotional distance. Maybe find some trusted friends who can support you.
Remember, damaging someone has consequences. We cannot excuse ongoing bad behavior.
……this is the hardest thing, I think……when you forgive someone….you want them to “be healed” as well, …..but….. the healing is for you….by grace….through Christ….IT IS THE ULTIMATE…..accept it!!!! We want to see results in others when, really, as Christians, we need to seek results in ourselves, via Christ on the Cross!! It seems selfish, but it is what God wants for us….that’s why He sent Jesus…….For You and ME….AMEN!!!! Keep praying for the ones who are harming you or have harmed you……but by GOD’s grace…..accept his sacrifice of His Son for you……it’s OK…..He loves you that much…..and MORE…..It’s a promise that can’t be broken….not like other promises…. not like promises you’ve heard before….. This is the REAL PROMISE!!!! By our changing and accepting Christ, the world and those in it will change….NOT….by our hoping others will change, then we will change. THIS IS SOOOOO HARD!!!! Only through Christ….It can’t happen any other way! ….
I went through the same struggle last year. (How to forgive someone who has no remorse). With the help of a really great Marriage and Family Therapist (http://www.DrDeb.com) who told me a simple analogy, I was finally able to wrap my head around it, and forgive.
The person I needed to forgive had been emotionally and verbally abused by parents who were physically and emotionally abused, so eventually the person began to emotionally and verbally abuse me… the continued pattern. (Dizzy just typing that.)
I could not put my finger on what was holding me back from forgiving him so we could move forward.
Then Dr. Deb gave me the analogy:
In order for someone to be remorseful, or even apologize, they need to able to feel empathy and compassion for others.
Someone who grew up the way he did, didn’t know what compassion or empathy was. The same way someone who is colorblind doesn’t know what green is. How do you explain or teach a colorblind person what green is? How do you explain what they are missing out on, what they’ve never seen?
I know what empathy and compassion are because I’ve felt it and experienced it from my parents. They taught me, showed me. It’s so obvious to me, so plain-as-day. But to him it’s not. Which also explains the defensiveness when I would try to explain to him, help him “see”. I was, in essence, trying to tell him “green” exists…going against his lifetime of experience which told him it didn’t exist. Then to be told everyone else but you can see it. Now who sounded crazy? I did.
So, I wanted him to show remorse, apologize…. He can’t yet. He hasn’t learned how. But I can forgive the behavior because I understand more now. He is not deliberately withholding remorse to hurt me further.
(Colorblind people can, over time, learn the subtle differences in shades with practice and effort. Because there is no cure, they will never be able to fully appreciate color in the same way as those with normal color vision, but they can associate colors with certain objects and are usually able to identify color as everyone else.)So there is always hope where there is understanding, compassion, empathy and forgiveness.
For some great books (workbooks actually) and resources, check here… http://www.abuse-recovery-and-marriage-counseling.com/getstuff/
This lady has helped me a great deal, and many others like me.
Hi Greg….like the new photo!!! In all of my praying and thinking and pondering forgiveness……I had to take myself back to the beginning…..where I was formed ….in God’s image….shew…that’s pretty big and important!!! ….but, I wasn’t raised thinking that….I have had to take myself there through many a painful experience….I am not saying I am all that special….but, I am a miracle!.. I know that doesn’t sound so humble…but I think we each need to believe that, before we know that we are worth anything before God. I came across a quote from Pablo Casals, a famous cellist ( I am a musician…so I appreciate where he is coming from)…..he said, “a child must know that he is a miracle….that since the beginning of the world there hasn’t been, and until the end of the world, there will not be another child like him…”. I think it starts when you are young, knowing that you are a miracle (or not!). I am preparing for 5 days with my parents…..who mostly have thought I may have been a mistake….but I am going to repeat this saying….because I know that this is true!!!! Each of us is a miracle……and we are loved deeply by God, who only desires a relationship with us …. through Christ, His Son, whom He sacrificed for us (me)! Whew…..that’s good, that’s love….I can believe in that…. my point is, ….go back….go back to the beginning….there are some answers there……..