Posted by: Judy | March 26, 2013

Definitions…

Forgiveness: Forgiveness is about repentance. You’ve done something wrong and know it. You do what you’re able to correct or compensate, including talking to those you hurt and to those who are in on what you did, however unwittingly. You ask God for forgiveness and the person you harmed.

Example:

Fred tells everyone Jack is a low life because Jack didn’t help him out when Fred’s car broke down.

Then Fred finds out Jack didn’t help because he wasn’t around. He was working overtime to pay some unexpected bills.

Jack did nothing wrong. Jack did not set out to hurt Fred. Jack didn’t even know there was a problem.

Jack does find himself the subject of angry glares and suspicion. He finds out Fred has been bad mouthing him. And Jack will find out. There is always someone who has to make sure the victim knows. This is good because the victim needs to know. This is also bad because the person telling Jack is one of two kinds: The kind that loves stirring the pot and the kind that genuinely wants to help but doesn’t know anything else to do. The first likes confrontation and causing trouble not directly related to them, and the second is usually the one seeking to verify the rumor or, in other words, seeking the truth.

Fred finds out Jack knows.

Fred prays for forgiveness and tells Jack he feels God has forgiven him so Jack should forgive him.

What’s wrong with this picture?

First, Fred does not get to decide who forgives and who doesn’t. Not his job. This is called playing god wherein Fred gets to set the rules and how they’re played. Not.

Second, Fred has done nothing to rectify the damage he’s done. He has done nothing to clear Jack’s name.

Third, Fred has added insult to injury by first accuse Jack of not being helpful and then accusing Jack of being unforgiving.

Fred is spiraling.

Abusers do this.

Abusers will always find a way to blame the victim.

An abuser truly seeking forgiveness accepts responsibility for the entire mess. Not in a self-flogging way but an “I screwed up and I will do what is within my power to clean up the mess.” And then does it.

Fred goes to everyone he told his story of woe and admits Jack is innocent of any wrong doing. No excuses, no buts, no if only he, no excuses. None. Not one.

After Fred has cleared Jack’s name, then he talks to Jack. He admits to exactly what he did, nothing vague and no still no excuses.

If Fred has humbled himself and done everything he is able to make things right, whether or not Jack forgives Fred is entirely up to Jack. It is not Fred’s business. It isn’t. Really. It is now between Jack and God.

Now Fred can approach the throne of God and ask for forgiveness. He will need to confess to God what he did and explain that he has done all he can do to provide restitution. Not because God needs to know but because Fred is baring his soul to God. God knows. Fred needs to know he knows. He promises he will never speak ill of anyone. He follows through on his promise. He has changed. God will forgive him and forget.

Absolution: The act of freeing of guilt, blame, consequences, obligations, or penalties.

In the first scenario, Fred isn’t asking for forgiveness; he is asking for absolution.

Jack cannot give absolution.

Only God gives absolution, and He doesn’t very often in this life. God allows the consequences to play out.

If we could destroy anything we wanted and by the simple means of asking for forgiveness have everything right again, what would be the point of trying to do good?

Of the abusers in my life, only one truly changed. He never touched me again. He treated me with respect and consideration. He changed, at least around me. I’ve forgiven him.

Last note, I’ve said this in my book and other places on my blog:

Forgiveness and trust are not interchangeable.


Responses

  1. This post is just brilliant Judy. You’ve explained it in such an uncomplicated and clear way. I love this phrase:
    “If we could destroy anything we wanted and by the simple means of asking for forgiveness have everything right again, what would be the point of trying to do good?”
    That just about sums it up, doesn’t it? xx

    • Glad it was clear. I worried Fred and Jack would muddle it, but then I think that’s the writer in me. 🙂

  2. Well said. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome.


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