What Forgiveness Is (and What it is Not)

15 Responses

  1. Nephila says:

    I’m sorry but I could not disagree more. Forgiveness is wiping the slate clean and absolving them of the wrong. It disentitles you to ever feel hurt again. It gives a free pass. It puts yet another burden on the victim.

    I agree it is never a requirement because of those things. It is not acceptance, acceptance is enough, forgiveness is an optional extra. Acceptance frees you, forgiveness is a burden.

    Most strongly forgiveness in the absence of remorse is letting them off the hook. It’s a false dichotomy with anger. You can be angry at having to forgive!

    Forgives happens or not, bit by bit, mostly unconsciously and needs an environment of reparation and remorse. All that you need to move on is Acceptance. That’s why I like Janis Spring’s later book “how can I forgive you?” Because she recognises how inadequate a concept forgiveness is, even another stick to beat the victim with.

    • One of the things I love about this topic is the conversation it stimulates.

      Ultimately, we do what works for us. For me, acceptance didn’t free me of the anger and I wasn’t going to get any remorse, so I had to figure out a way that I could find peace that wasn’t dependent upon him at all.

      And as for the hook, I let go of the need to impale him. If he hasn’t changed, he’ll do just fine with that on his own!:)

      • Nephila says:

        My term for dealing with the unremorsedul scoundrel (in my case my father), is “writing off”. It’s not lost on me that in finance this is often called “debt forgiveness” but I think there is a distinction. Writing off means you stop pursuing it, it doesn’t mean they don’t owe it. And a business that has written off debts that are unrecoverable to get them off the ledger will still sue if they find out the debtor won the lottery and is within the statute of limitations. True debt forgiveness is irrevocable and really does let them off the hook, it releases the obligation. So I prefer just writing off bad people. Not forgiving 🙂

  2. KellyJRN says:

    Amazing post and so true :-). Forgiveness IS a choice and sometimes it’s a choice you have to make every day until the bitterness that takes hold in your heart is gone. It is so liberating.

  3. Everyone has different views on this topic. Forgiveness requires remorse, true and heartfelt remorse. I do not forgive those people who have done me wrong, whether in personal relationships or through violence. I do not owe them my forgiveness, if they believe in a God, let them seek forgiveness there. I am whole and complete without offering forgiveness, even inside of myself. How I am whole and complete is through acceptance of the world, my world as it is now. Letting go of bitterness, letting go of my pain and seeking new avenues to live fully in the world I have. This does not require I forgive, only that I cut away the dead parts.

  4. Dawn says:

    People really do have a hard time understanding what it really means to forgive someone.
    My parents are both bullies. I blamed them for years. Finally I was able to seem them as just another flawed hurt human like myself.
    I was able to forgive them…doesn’t mean what he did was right. Doesn’t mean I allow the same abuse to continue in the future.
    It does mean that I no longer have to hold on to the pain it caused me up till that point.

    • Accepting the flaw to me is huge – it shifts from anger to something more like pity. I choose to see my ex as hurt, damaged, and fearful. Accurate? Who knows, but it if I can see him as flawed and doing the best he can with the tools he had, it brings me peace.

      Must have been so hard to grow up with bullies for parents. Glad you’ve found a way to not let that hold you back:)

  5. I have a really hard time with this forgiveness thing. I do not hold resentment for my ex, I don’t seek revenge or wish him ill will. I don’t care what he is doing or who he is doing it with. I do not consider myself a victim (any more) but i was a victim of his abuse but i am also a survivor of his abuse and the rest of my life is my own responsibility, in fact because of his abuse I have found an inner peace i probably never would have found otherwise, because it forced me to do some major soul searching and it took me in a direction with my career i never would have gone otherwise. i still don’t forgive him.
    He doesn’t want my forgiveness, he is an evil, cruel, vindictive man who i forgave many many times.
    I have accepted what happened and don’t dwell on it, I don’t habor anger, or thoughts of revenge, I moved on. i don’t even know how I could forgive him, I don’t see the need.
    If i were to “forgive” him, what does the mean if he were to contact me? or if I run into him on the street? That i would stop and have a chat with him? not on your life! make small talk? with a man that tried his hardest to destroy me? nope. If he showed up at my door starving and homeless I should take him in? not going to happen. He could die on my step for all I care. That my sound cold hearted, or unforgiving of me but i have taken the man in and he stole from me and used my good nature, he was lying the whole time.
    Forgiveness to me means that there would be some sort of truce or acceptance of him as a person, I do not approve of how he lives his life and I think he is the scum of the earth. i leave it in God’s hands to deal with him.
    But if i feel that strongly about him, how could i forgive him?
    i think i am missing something still.

    • Interesting question – “if i feel that strongly about him, how could i forgive him?” Definitely more to think about.

      I’ve also wondered about the “show up on my doorstep” idea. I think I would treat him as a stranger (which he is) and respond to his words/actions at the time rather than his past. But who really knows???

      Thanks for giving me more to think about:)

  6. goinpubs says:

    Lisa, I have appreciated finding your blog. Thank you for your humility and for sharing your truth. For me, this journey has been unbearably long. So much longer than I ever could have imaged. I forgave too quickly. (And frankly, that mistake really screwed me over.) I was confused as to what forgiveness actually is–and as you pointed out, it cannot be doled out on demand. In my experience, if forgiveness is bestowed due to pressure of any kind, be it from the offender or an outside influence, it can hinder true forgiveness. In other words, trust the process. Be patient with yourself–even if no one else is.

  7. Josie says:

    Lisa, it is refreshing to see other women that do not believe in the concept of forgiveness. I also believe that I am whole and complete even though I have never forgiven my ex for what he did and what he continues to do. In fact I deeply resent the term forgiveness. It doesn’t belong in the divorce community at all. We need to find a better word than forgiveness. And we need to let women remain angry if they choose…in some circumstances anger can mean survival.

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