If someone asks him, ‘What are these wounds on your body?’ he will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ Zech 13 v 6

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Forgiveness....Is it for me?

Forgiveness is such a hard topic for me. Christians commonly tell me that my act of forgiveness would really be for my benefit more than for Patrick's. I'm not sure that makes it any easier.

Once upon a time, forgiveness seemed so straightforward. When I first became a mom, I can remember teaching my children that if someone said, "I'm sorry," the appropriate response was, "I forgive you." It was that simple. Forgiveness meant forgive and forget.

Forgiveness does not seem so straightforward to me anymore.

Forgiveness for Patrick feels to me like I am letting him off the hook. I will never forget what Patrick did to my child, or the tidal wave of change that resulted from his act. I cannot fathom ever wishing anything good for Patrick. I do pray that Patrick doesn't have the chance to ever victimize another child. Does that count?


Regina said...

It's not something I can explain fully -- obviously I've never been as hurt as your family and you. But start taking it to God. You don't have to be ready to forgive Patrick yet. Just ask God to show you what forgiveness means in this circumstance.

My husband is twice a survivor of suicide (both parents). Obviously I can't tell them that I forgive them. But God and I have worked on the issue--and it started with asking what forgiveness means when the person who sinned against you is dead. My father-in-law has been dead almost 11 years, and I probably only got to a point of forgiveness within the last two years. My mother-in-law was in 2001, and I'm honestly not there yet.

It's not easy. It may or may not be appropriate to go to the person and express that forgiveness. Let God lead you on that. But I do encourage you to take it up with Him.

freddyeddy said...

Hi Danielle,
In our situation, there is more than one party (in my mind) who needs forgiveness-from the victim, me, my wife, et cetera. As you have taught your children and we also have taught ours, when forgiveness is sincerely requested, it should be extended. That would at least be a starting place, if the perp was sincerrely remorseful, was seeking to change behavior and move toward making restitution of some kind.
It is obviously much more difficult when there are none of these. Worse, there is denial, justification, and apparent indifference to the damage done.

I don't know what the answer is. I do believe time is a balm of sorts if you seek to reject bitterness.

For the perp, I've managed to file him away in a small corner of my mind. When I do think of him, I usually feel sadness and disqust. I briefly feel sorry for his own children and wonder what their lives must be like. Mostly, I try not to think of him honestly.

For the others involved who did not act in the way I thought they should, it is similar. Ironically, I was almost more angry at them for a season, now I mostly pity them.

I have had seasons of bitterness and severe angst. Some of that is probably still buried. I do, in my "higher moments", take those feelings to God and ask for help-pretty basic prayers like, "help God!"

I believe it is a choice and a process. No one call tell you your process or timetable. People who attempt to do so are misguided or extremely naive. Friends who seek to empathize and support will give you a lot more help in the process.

Generally speaking, I have to admit I am a more jaded and cynical person than before (probably hard to imagine if you know how cynical I seem to have been born).

When I think of the Matthew 24:12 "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" it is incredibly sobering. I think my love, in many ways, has grown cold. I don't want to be that way. Face to face with people, I believe I am generally kind and thoughtful. When I think of "humanity as a block" or the "souls of a city" I hate to admit, I have to be very intentional about trying to care.

Prabably too much....don't stop wrestling. Thanks for your blog.

freddyeddy said...

cheval85 says...
The way I have come to understand forgiveness is to let them off of your hook and put them on God's. Thankfully for us God is merciful but He is also just and He can truly see the heart. It may not seem from our vantage point that anything is happening but God knows their end. Proverbs 24:17-20 "Do not gloat when your enemy falls: when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice, or the Lord will see and disapprove and turn his wrath away from him. Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out." Forgiveness can simply mean every time we are tempted to take vengence into our own hands we put them back in God's hands again.