Forgiveness is a concept I’ve struggled a bit with in various episodes of my life, and even in the recent past. By definition, it means you’ve reached a point where a person’s offense against you no longer angers you or hurts you. But, does that mean that person is back in your good graces, as if to say you’ve forgiven and forgotten? Or does it just mean that you’ve moved on and don’t think about the other person’s offense against you? I think most Christian based churches would tell you that the latter is not true forgiveness. I think it’s ok for each person to establish their own set of interpretations and boundaries to work through the process in a way that’s right for them. Of course it would also depend on the circumstances.
We are human beings, none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. It’s always nice when our mistakes are forgiven. It’s also comforting to forgive as part of your own healing process. I think a lot depends on the intent of the offender and the magnitude of the wrongdoing, as to how the process will go. Each person will process things differently as well. For example, if someone says something insensitive or something that hurt my feelings, or if it’s a misunderstanding without ill intent, that’s not hard to truly forgive. If the person seems sincere and receptive when you tell them how you felt as a result of what they said, that makes it easily doable to forgive and move on.
Everyone has a different Achilles heel. For me, there would be certain things that are completely unacceptable and deal breakers, and no coming back from. If someone were to maliciously spreads gossip or try to destroy my professional or personal reputation, or jeopardize my livelihood for any reason, that would be one unforgivable offense. Or someone who steals from me, and has no regard for my own hard work. Someone who is manipulative or narcissistic, whether they inflict physical or emotional damage, they knew what they were doing. That’s not a mistake. That’s a serious character flaw and someone that must be cut out immediately.
I’ve even had a couple different romantic partners or love interests hurt me deeply on an emotional level. I generally reach the point where I realize that the trust I’ve given them is only for them to have control. At that point, there’s a very narrow window where we make things right because as it is, it’s not healthy for me. Or else we are very near the point where there is no turning back, no forgiveness, and the bridge will be completely burnt. It isn’t taking your ball and going home at that point. it’s self preservation and setting boundaries. You have to do what is healthy for yourself.
Once a person has done emotional damage, I find that forgiveness isn’t necessary. Think about it. If someone has done something so wrong that there is no turning back, and they ASK for forgiveness, it’s for their own comfort and convenience. They are then asking you to work through the healing process in a time frame that’s convenient for them. No. I think working through that healing process is valuable. It helps you identify these offenses and certain behavior patterns that are unacceptable for you. Also, it sharpens your senses and helps you sniff out and repel that person or someone else with that behavior. Time is what heals. During that time, some reflection and soul searching should be done to help prevent these things from becoming a pattern.
A scab may look ugly, but it protects the wound from scarring. If you pick it off (which the offender ASKING you to forgive them in their time would be asking you to do) it will not heal properly and will scar. Sometimes people have to live with what they’ve done to people when their actions are that reprehensible. There is no coming back from certain things. Letting a person back in your life who has proven to be manipulative and cause you pain is just asking for trouble. That just teaches them that there is no social reckoning or consequences for what they’ve done. Does true forgiveness really happen then? Who cares? This is where I would work through the process and eventually, you no longer think about them or what they’ve done.That’s when you make peace with it. Which is part of what forgiveness is, right? That doesn’t mean you trust that person again. Now your senses are sharper. You’re stronger. They’re probably still scavengers. Either way, not the problem of the victim.