I just read an interesting article about forgiveness. It claims that sometimes unforgiveness is a good thing. The article gave an example of a woman who was abused all of her life by her brother, then as an adult, she stopped speaking to him, attending family gatherings that he was also to attend, etc. It confused me because to me, refusing to speak to her brother doesn’t necessarily mean she hasn’t forgiven him. Not everyone in a situation like this is hanging onto anger- they are setting boundaries.
I am a firm believer in forgiveness, & also a firm believer in setting healthy boundaries. As an example, I have ended friendships with people who used me, lied to me, or even had Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I refuse to spend time with them ever again. However, I’m not angry with them, nor do I wish them any harm. I simply care enough about myself not to put myself in the path of being mistreated by people who have proved themselves fully capable of it.
To me, forgiveness means refusing to allow anger to fester inside of me. I hate feeling angry!! As soon as it happens, I work through the anger as quickly as I can, then let it go. It has nothing to do with the person who has made me angry- it is about me, & how I don’t want to go through life angry or bitter.
Forgiveness also doesn’t necessarily mean forgiving & forgetting. Many times it does, of course, when the offense is small. However, if you are dealing with an abusive person, forgetting what they have done means you easily can set yourself up for further abuse. Look at the example of a wife whose husband beats her. If she forgives him & forgets, he will beat her again. He will beg for forgiveness, she will forgive & forget, then he will beat her again. The cycle will continue until she leaves him. Leaving isn’t a matter of forgiveness or unforgiveness- it’s a matter of survival.
Coming from a narcissistic mother, I have had to learn a lot about forgivness & boundaries. What I have written about here is the result of reading, listening to pastors preach on forgiveness, & praying. I pray it blesses you!