Thoughts on forgiveness . . .

  • 52 Replies
  • 9211 Views
*

Slowly Healing

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 452
Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« on: June 16, 2014, 08:05:36 PM »
In the Bible - can't remember which Gospel - Peter asks Jesus, "Lord, if my brother goes on sinning against me, how often should I forgive him? Seven times?"

You may recall that Jesus replied, "no, not seven times, but seventy times seven times."

I have a different interpretation of this, now that I'm separated for nearly a year from my u-NPD-OCPD-stbxh (forgive the long acronym).

This isn't supposed to be about welcoming abuse, saying that "oh, Jesus said I'm supposed to keep forgiving even those who repeatedly mistreat me."  It's more about realizing that if I keep putting up with it, I'm going to have to keep forgiving him. And why am I always going back for more in the first place????

Once I realized that I was being abused, I felt foolish and ashamed and terrified. It was almost easier to remain asleep to the problem. But I was not truly alive - I was existing. I was pleasing stbxh instead of seeking to please God. Then it became impossible to stay married to the man and keep any of my remaining sanity.

Jesus wasn't a doormat; I don't suppose he wants any of us to be either.

Any insights on this subject?

BTW - I am healing, very slowly, but I know I have a long way to go. I can't say that I've forgiven stbxh yet. Not in a hurry to, either. I get sucked in too easily.

Thanks for reading
"So oftentimes it happens, that we live our lives in chains/And we never even know we have the key"
- The Eagles, "Already Gone"

*

CathyMathy

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 326
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 08:29:03 PM »
I'm not a bible expert but happened to hear a radio preacher talk about Matthew ch 21 when I was driving home to an empty house.  The preacher's point was that if you do not forgive you will be in prison.  That was very calming to hear.  But forgiveness must be earned-I read that on a diff post. So don't forgive too quickly?  Who can say what's right here. . . Pds put us in serious moral dilemmas, dont't they?

Interestingly the king sent the unforgiver to prison and I don't think the king had any regrets about it.

*

MaggieMayCat

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 983
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 09:39:16 PM »
"Practicing forgiveness does not mean accepting wrong doing" 14th Dalai Lama.

Forgiveness is a Choice, Robert D. Enright, PhD

"Some people are apprehensive about forgiveness because they don't understand what it is.  Maybe forgiveness is the Limburger cheese of human affairs; at first it seems offensive, so offensive that we dare not try it.  People are afraid that forgiving that nothing happened to them.  They are afraid that if they forgive they are opening themselves up to being hurt again.  They are afraid that forgiving means letting people get away with it.  Many people feel that forgiving requires that they forget the offense, which they rightly see as impossible.  Many people can't imagine that their feelings toward the offender can ever change.  Although these concerns are understandable, they are not justified because they are a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is.  Forgiving begins with acknowledging that we are people who have a right to be treated with respect.  Forgiving does not require denying that we have been hurt.  On the contrary, to forgive we have to admit that we have been hurt and that we have a right to feel hurt, angry, or resentful.  Forgiving does not require denying our feelings.  In fact, as we will see, unwillingness to admit we have been hurt is one of the major impediments to forgiving.  We don't have to forget in order to forgive."

"When unjustly hurt by another, we forgive when we overcome the resentment toward the offender, not by denying our right to the resentment, bu instead of trying to offer the wrongdoer compassion, benevolence, and love; as we forgivers realize that the offender does not necessarily have a right to such gifts"  Philosopher Joanna North of Great Britain

I'm working through this book as a method to solve my own issues.   From what I've read so far - the only person we really need to forgive is ourselves - the people who have mistreated us have to come after that - if at all.  Most major religious writings cover forgiveness but none that I've come across say anything about forgetting the wrong that was committed - especially if the abuser does not change or atone for their actions. 

Don't know if this helps you - but it helped me.
I may be the black sheep of the family, but some of the white sheep are not as white as they try to appear. 

Leonard- "You can catch more flies with honey than vinegar."
Sheldon-  "You can catch even MORE flies with manure.  What's your point?"        ......from The Big Bang Theory

*

Kestrel

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 2675
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 11:46:21 PM »
At this moment I have no desire to forgive uPDfather, enMom (for being the silent partner to abuse), or the ex who left me high and dry.  I've read all sorts of stuff about forgiveness and how not forgiving hurts us more than it hurts them.  It's like those words hit a mental wall and cannot penetrate.  Just... no.  Eff them.  Eff them for hurting me.

Interestingly, I do feel varying degrees of pity for all three of them.  The pity seems to live in a separate place than my resentment.  It's like they can coexist without mingling.  I don't get it, but that's what's in my head and heart.

*

Mare Kaio

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2014, 10:29:42 AM »
I find it a very difficult concept, forgiveness. I mostly found descriptions of what it is not. Like: Forgiveness is not letting the other person off the hook; it doesn't mean you're not holding your abuser accountable, etc, etc. That wasn't particularly helpful. But then I read somewhere that forgiveness means leaving it up to someone/Someone/something else to "punish" your abuser, i.e., not letting it be your responsibility. That helped me. I think xSO is so damaged that he will never understand love or trust, and that is a very harsh punisment indeed. I can still be angry at times and I can feel pity and it can all coexist. But when I'm not feeling those emotions, I am free; there are no ties that bind me to him anymore.

At the same time, I think that forgiveness means different things to different people, and I'm not sure therefore whether one "needs" to forgive -- that depends on how you interpret the term, perhaps. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with being angry with the people that abused you. As long as you're healing, it is okay. The rest is irrelevant.

Unda

Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2014, 12:37:07 PM »
The concept of forgiveness isn't as difficult as one thinks.

There is a saying

"to forgive does not mean to forget."

Forgiveness is about YOU. It is about setting yourself free from the feelings their actions cause YOU. It is about saying - you did this, this was wrong, this crossed my boundary and because of that - we can not be what we once were. But I do not hate you, I do not dislike you, I dislike your choices, and the effect they have on me. And because you are incapable of making different choices, I have to remove myself from the situation, but I know it isn't YOU, it is the choices you make."

You are forgiving the human for making poor choices, while not forgetting the action itself.

That is how I view forgiveness.

*

whataboutbob

  • Guest
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2014, 06:51:21 PM »
I struggled with forgiveness a lot because of my upbringing. I also have struggle with an innate desire for justice and a desire for revenge. I like this scripture: Matthew 19-20:  5 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'  17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." 

Without good faith on the part of the abusive person there will never be any reconciliation and forgiveness is impossible. However, we tell it to each other here about our abuse and then drop all contact and association to protect ourselves. That's my take on it. Terminating all ties is just hard work. I heard the Pope say, a few days ago, to a group of Muslim kids; "Forgiveness is hard work". Remember, if we are feeling fear, obligation, or guilt from the manipulation of another? We're being abused.

*

FaithinGod

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 131
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2014, 12:27:17 AM »
Jesus tells us to forgive over and over again.  As hard as this can be, it does release us from bondage.  Look how many times He forgives us and still continues to love us.  When we are hurt and abused or whatever it may be, I believe it is God who will deal with those who are doing the evil.   He wants us to have the right heart.  We forgive which is completely the opposite of what the world tells us to do.  Of course, He doesn't expect us to be door mats, but we are responsible for our own actions and for our words.

*

katydid

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • 698
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #8 on: June 19, 2014, 08:31:07 PM »
For me? Forgiveness is a process.

I always do the forgive part.  For ME.

I do not have to forget.

I do not have to give the person opportunity to make amends.

I do not have to continue in relationship with the person -- it can end.  I don't have to go back for more.

But for my own mental health, spiritual health, emotional health -- I forgive.  Because NOT to forgive is continuing to carry around a burden I am better off without.  Like too much brain power, emotional energy devoted to time thinking about this person and their doings that I did not like.  What for?

I can choose to let it go and be free of it/them.

Katydid

*

water

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1451
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2014, 04:36:04 PM »
For me, forgiveness is about letting go of the pain, not a free pass, not a free pass to more abuse, not about them at all.

I just ask God to carry the burden for me, to forgive them.

The abusers, my parents, have no interest in forgiveness, they can't admit anything happened in the first place (abuse amnesia), never happened, we didn't do that and if we did it was for your own good, and it never happened, you are too sensitive.

For a long time, this past few months I was thinking, I'm not very good at this forgiveness thing, I keep having to forgive over and over again. Why can't I do it right the first time. Then I realized, hey, every time these hurt/hate/furious/frustrating emotions comes up I have to AGAIN forgive. I'm not stupid at forgiving, I'm just re-experiencing the pain again. So it will be a daily/weekly/monthly soul chore to forgive, so it doesn't hurt me anymore.

What about involving them in the forgiveness? Well, first, they deny it, the abuse, they never say they are sorry, they are unreasonable, and they plan to do it again. Why involve them at all. Mom refused to let me talk to dad on his death bed, good enabler, and dad the abuser made false accusations and questions me designed to hurt me, they want to keep playing that same script/game. They don't WANT forgiveness, they want complete control, so either I give it or they will hurt me.

The forgiveness, is for me, for my part in any of it, and for them through God. He is the only one to see my heart.

This has been the only path to be able to love my parents from afar. I cannot unchose them, they are my parents. It is the only way I could not die from the heart aches of realizing they had no intention of fixing our relationships. Comply with them or die, that was my choice. I made my own choice, to forgive. :hug:

*

Slowly Healing

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 452
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2014, 06:49:48 PM »
Thanks and my prayers go out to the Universe that we are all healed of our pasts.

I find that I have also confused forgiveness with dismissing what happened; preferring to forget about it rather than feel the pain, or betrayal, or even the fear that abuse brings up in me. I tried to shrug it off by telling myself that they didn't mean it, etc. But that habit kept me from recognizing it when it happened again, either with the original abuser or with someone else.

The way that I became aware of this was that, every single time that I thought "oh, my stbxh needs forgiveness; I can't get mad at him because he's hurting too, and" blah, blah, blah, some (figurative) handful of sh!t was thrown at me by his attorney or the court. It was like God was saying, "Go ahead, get angry! If you keep pretending that he didn't do anything wrong, you'll keep getting abused!"

Maybe God doesn't talk like that; I don't claim to hear his voice, but I know when I have to learn something when it keeps bugging me.

Anybody else get this?
"So oftentimes it happens, that we live our lives in chains/And we never even know we have the key"
- The Eagles, "Already Gone"

*

water

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1451
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2014, 07:12:03 PM »
Yes, forgiveness is a separate issue, not tied to the abuse tied to compassion.

Forgive, do this for you. You don't have to tell the abuser you forgive them, it's not about the abuser at all. Yes, you know they were abused too but this is about giving up the hurt they put on you and your compassion for them, but they don't care. Ignore them completely and let your forgiveness be for you.

Do not allow yourself to be abused again, it's a normal human function to stay away from getting hurt again. No more abuse.


*

Hawkie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 162
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #12 on: June 25, 2014, 06:40:28 PM »
At this moment I have no desire to forgive uPDfather, enMom (for being the silent partner to abuse), or the ex who left me high and dry.  I've read all sorts of stuff about forgiveness and how not forgiving hurts us more than it hurts them.  It's like those words hit a mental wall and cannot penetrate.  Just... no.  Eff them.  Eff them for hurting me.

Interestingly, I do feel varying degrees of pity for all three of them.  The pity seems to live in a separate place than my resentment.  It's like they can coexist without mingling.  I don't get it, but that's what's in my head and heart.


Kestrel, I know exactly what you mean!!! A lot of my anger and resentment has turned to pity. As my husband says about my N mom, "She has to live with herself, what a sad place to be." She is the author of her own misfortune and I feel sorry for her to be trapped in such a miserable cycle. But forgive and forget? Nope.

My problem with "forgive and forget" is that it is demanded. To me, forgiveness should be a choice, not dictated. In my life, "forgive and forget" has been used as an emotional weapon and I'm no longer having any of it. Choices have consequences, and certain people need to lie in the bed they've made. I'll forgive when I choose to. Right now, that's not happening.

I am happy for those who have chosen to forgive and for whom that has brought peace. What a beautiful release.

*

water

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1451
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #13 on: June 25, 2014, 07:37:17 PM »
Hawkeye,
Quote
My problem with "forgive and forget" is that it is demanded. To me, forgiveness should be a choice, not dictated. In my life, "forgive and forget" has been used as an emotional weapon and I'm no longer having any of it. Choices have consequences, and certain people need to lie in the bed they've made.

Yes. Forgive doesn't go with FORGET, Forgive is what a person chooses, FORGET isn't even good for you.
I fell in a lake and almost drown, forget, no way.
I let an unscrupulous person hurt me, forget, no way.
I want to be an idiot I forget things all the time, NO WAY.
Forgive is a generous act on behalf of ourselves, forget is oncoming stupidity.

*

bluebird8

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • 55
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #14 on: June 26, 2014, 04:21:29 PM »
I struggled with forgiveness a lot because of my upbringing. I also have struggle with an innate desire for justice and a desire for revenge. I like this scripture: Matthew 19-20:  5 "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.  16 But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'  17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 18 "I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  19 "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven.  20 For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." 


During my year long separation from my AVPD husband, I struggled so much with forgiving "seventy times seven" as described in the Bible.  Preceding that, I forgave, forgave, forgave, and he kept lying, lying, lying.  The above verse from whataboutbob is what was my "answer" and permission to divorce.  My spouse and I were married in the church and I entrusted our marriage to God.  But after reading books like Sacred Influence, Redemptive Divorce, The Divorce Dilemma, and The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, I realized forgiving didn't mean continuing to allow him to sin and hurt our marriage.  All these are practical Christian books I highly recommend.  We are not called to be doormats.  God hates divorce; but he also hates sin and the havoc it wreaks on a marriage.  And, the church today often punishes the innocent spouse for pursuing separation and divorce, when the guilty spouse needs some serious tough love!

Also, the Divorce Dilemma brings up the concept of if the spouse continues to sin, even after being confronted by the wife and disciplined by the church, it's possible that person may not even be a Christian!  If you are a Biblically focused Christian as myself, you know that the core of our faith is salvation through the grace of God for our sins.  If someone refuses to change or see their errors, how could they call themselves Christian? 

In addition, regardless of your religious beliefs, I believe forgiveness is crucial because you will be so bitter about your failed relationship.  It's only going to be by God's grace I will forgive my spouse and be able to move on.  But, I know it'll be a slow process.

*

Hawkie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 162
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #15 on: July 27, 2014, 11:24:13 PM »
Yes. Forgive doesn't go with FORGET, Forgive is what a person chooses, FORGET isn't even good for you.
I fell in a lake and almost drown, forget, no way.
I let an unscrupulous person hurt me, forget, no way.
I want to be an idiot I forget things all the time, NO WAY.
Forgive is a generous act on behalf of ourselves, forget is oncoming stupidity.

Hi water, I LOVE your analogies re: forgetting!! Thank you so much for putting it so succinctly. Oncoming stupidity, indeed. :) Maybe some day I will make the CHOICE to forgive. I feel it getting closer.
Thanks again, hope you are having a great weekend.

*

water

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1451
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #16 on: July 27, 2014, 11:36:53 PM »
Hawkie, when you forgive, you only love yourself more, you've let the love in, filled up your love quota, your heart fills will joy. Forgiveness is pleasurable. Will I forget, probably not, I'm wiser now because of it.

I am having a good week-end, thank you so much.

Forgiveness is like a salve on a burn. I forgive by forgiving them myself, and letting God take that burden, and knowing I'm better for it.

Still I don't invite the same abusers into my life. I deserve better than that.

*

Hawkie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 162
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #17 on: July 30, 2014, 03:20:24 PM »
Hi water, I really appreciate the way you have described your approach to forgiveness. I have decided that the word "forgive" is so loaded for me, but yesterday I realized that "let go" feels right. I will strive to let it go. Forget? No. Allow it again? Trying not to! But I can let it go and allow my life to progress without the dead weight. So thank you again, you really helped me to find a way. It will take practice, but I believe it will be worth it. THANK YOU!

*

water

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • 1451
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #18 on: July 30, 2014, 07:33:19 PM »
What is difficult is when the abuser will not recognize the abuse, as abuse, so they will not acknowledge it. Since they don't acknowledge it they don't apologize for it (and they'll do it again). So I can't say, I forgive you. But when I need to forgive, then that is just between me and God. I say something like, "God please forgive them and help me to forgive them. It's a load too heavy to carry please carry it for me."

And when an abuser is dead, they can't acknowledge it, or ask for forgiveness so you aren't given a choice to forgive them directly. After my dad died we lit up a big bonfire and I think of all the branches burning as putting to bed, or letting go of all those not so pretty things he did, in the past and all that is left is ashes.

*

Hawkie

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • 162
Re: Thoughts on forgiveness . . .
« Reply #19 on: July 31, 2014, 06:00:42 PM »
What is difficult is when the abuser will not recognize the abuse, as abuse, so they will not acknowledge it. Since they don't acknowledge it they don't apologize for it (and they'll do it again). So I can't say, I forgive you. But when I need to forgive, then that is just between me and God. I say something like, "God please forgive them and help me to forgive them. It's a load too heavy to carry please carry it for me."

And when an abuser is dead, they can't acknowledge it, or ask for forgiveness so you aren't given a choice to forgive them directly. After my dad died we lit up a big bonfire and I think of all the branches burning as putting to bed, or letting go of all those not so pretty things he did, in the past and all that is left is ashes.

Hi water,

You are absolutely right about abusers who don't acknowledge the abuse. What I am doing is visualizing me breaking a cord that I have been allowing to connect us and letting them float off to their own fates. As you say, it's not my load to carry anymore!

I liked your analogy with the bonfire. It must have been cathartic for you to think of the "bad" stuff burning away.