Based on what I have been learning about forgiveness, and in the context of what I mean by forgiveness, I want to list some things that forgiveness is NOT, as well as some things that forgiveness IS.
I think this is important because sometimes some of us may find ourselves in the position of having to forgive people who have really been abusive. And sometimes it takes awhile to understand clearly the lines between abuse versus putting up with annoying habits of people who are just hard to be around.
Some of us grow up without clear boundaries modeled for us, clear boundaries between treating people with respect and honor versus manipulation, pushiness, passive-aggressive behavior, and other unkind or even brutal treatment. And some of us find that we have spent years allowing people to treat us in ways that are disrespectful or abusive. It can take time to learn where the boundaries lie.
Here are 3 things that I have learned that forgiveness is NOT:
1. Forgiveness is NOT saying, admitting, or agreeing that the hurtful action, abuse, or offense was OK.
I think a lot of people believe that forgiveness means admitting somehow that the offense was acceptable or admissible. I have come to learn that forgiveness has nothing to do with determining if what they did was OK or not. Many things that happen to us at the hands (or mouths) of others are clearly NOT acceptable or appropriate. They are often bad, horrible, and downright wrong. We can still forgive even these offenses, but we are NOT saying that they were OK.
2. Forgiveness is NOT agreeing to further mistreatment.
Sometimes we may be forgiving people for treating us disrespectfully. Forgiveness is NOT giving them the OK to do it again. Which leads to the next one.
3. Forgiveness is NOT saying, admitting, or agreeing to stay in relationship with the offender, abuser, or person who treats another person in a hurtful way.
Sometimes we have to get out of relationships with people, even after we forgive them. And not always because of abuse or mistreatment. Sometimes being in relationship with certain people is just not good for us. It is OK to stop seeing or severely limit contact with people who make us feel terrible.
Finding out these things that forgiveness is NOT has been helpful for me. They really have helped me to be able to forgive.
To be continued tomorrow with what forgiveness IS.
May forgiveness bring healing to you,