Forgiveness: What It Is and What It’s Not

Forgiveness.What It Is and What It Isn't

Many people talk about forgiveness without really understanding what it means.

They think it means to also forget what happened, to never bring it up again, and to rebuild a relationship with them regardless of the past. It would be great to offer that type of forgiveness to someone, however there are those who’d take advantage of that. The most important thing in life is to live a peaceful life, a balanced life. If something or someone interferes with that, they may need to be excommunicated from your life. Don’t feel bad about the decision you make if it indeed allows you to live an emotionally healthy life.

Forgiveness doesn’t equate to:

  • Reconciliation
  • Wanting to renew a relationship
  • Acceptance
  • Forgetting
  • Not wanting justice done

Let’s look at those one at a time.

Reconciliation isn’t a factor of forgiveness if the person has been habitual in their abuse toward you. To have an emotionally healthy life, you forgive them and move on. You leave them in the past, along with the abuse.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to renew your relationship with them. There are times when you have to love someone from afar. You know if you let them get close to you, they’ll hurt you again. It’s just who they are. You forgive them and make a decision to not have them as a part of your life. Some people will ask your forgiveness, and then try to make you feel guilty for wanting minimal, or no, interaction with them. A person that does that isn’t sincere in their apology and are attempting to control your emotions.

You can forgive someone without accepting their behavior. An example may be someone with a short temper. They become angry and lash out at you. You forgive them for their outburst and whatever hurtful things they may have said, while at the same time not condoning their behavior. You make it clear that they need help managing their emotions and you may have to step back from the relationship while they do so.

A crime has occurred and you forgive the perpetrator. Justice still should be sought, even if in civil court. Actions have consequences, positive or negative. If you decide to take someone to court for a wrong done to you, that doesn’t indicate you haven’t forgiven their offense. An example may be someone not paying child support or other types of lawsuits.

Sometimes we speak of forgiveness as something we need to do for others. Let’s not forget it’s also something we need to do for ourselves. We’ve all made bad choices, some of us have made horrible choices. We need to forgive ourselves for those things, learn from our mistakes, and move forward in our lives.

There are also times we need to simply forgive someone for who they are as a person, and forgive ourselves for wanting them to be different, for attempting to make them change. People are people. We all have character flaws, deficits, and our own way of thinking and handling situations. Some of us are more mature than others. Some are analytical thinkers and some aren’t. Some are more social than others. Some prefer to spend most of their time alone. If someone is different than you and you find that you dislike them for that – forgive yourself for wanting them to be how you want them to be.

What are your thoughts on forgiveness?

I’d love to read your examples of situations where you chose to forgive someone else or yourself.

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