What Forgiveness is Not


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I have come to realize forgiveness is not an easy task. I have come to realize that there are many things I can forgive, but there are core issues that I hold so tight, they scare me.

So I admit I have A LOT of work to do.

Below is a list of what forgiveness is not provided in a recent session I was in.

Forgiveness is not forgetting. So nothing has been able to turn back the clock and remove the unpleasant incidents from your life histories, and forgiveness will not do that either.  We cannot forget, nor should we. Those experiences, and even the pain caused, have a great deal to teach us, both about not being victimized again and about not victimizing others.

Forgetting is not condoning. In fact, true forgiveness cannot occur while we are in any way denying, minimizing, justifying or condoning the actions that harmed us.

Forgiveness is not absolution. When we forgive the people who hurt us, we d not “let them off the hook”. They are still responsible for what they did and must make their own peace the past. What’s more, “I absolve you” are words spoken from atop our mountain of self-righteousness and demonstrate that we have not yet healed our wounds or let go of the pain from the past. They let us play God, a benevolent got this time rather than a punitive one, but still a god who judges then condemns or absolves the sinner. Absolution is just another way to be “one up” on the people who hurt us. And that is not forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not a form of self-sacrifice. Forgiveness is not swallowing our true feelings and playing the martyr. The “grin and bear it” approach forgiveness makes life less joyful and more difficult. Actual forgiveness has the opposite effect and cannot be undertaken halfheartedly. We either forgive or we don’t. Being honest about not being ready to forgive yet is better for us in the long run than pretending to forgive.

Forgiveness is not a clear-cut, one-time decision. It cannot be forced. Forgiveness happens naturally as a result of confronting painful past experiences and healing old wounds.

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