True forgiveness has been very warped by people. So many thing it means “forgive & forget” & if you can’t do that, you’re no Christian & a terrible person. I really don’t believe that however.
Yes, the Bible states that we are to forgive those who have trespassed against us (Matthew 6:12, 15; 18:21; Luke 7:47, 11:4, 17:3; John 20:23; 2 Corinthians 2:10). But, nowhere in the Bible does it state, “Forgive & forget. Let abusive people continue to abuse you with zero consequences!” Quite honestly, I believe that is just stupid to do when a person shows no remorse for their actions! If you don’t remember what they did to you, you open the door for them to abuse you over & over.
A good friend recently showed me what forgiveness really means, & this “forgive & forget” thing people preach isn’t it.
If you forgive someone, it means they no longer owe you a debt. For example, if you lend someone $100, but they can’t repay it, you can opt to forgive their debt to you by telling them they no longer need to repay you that $100. You act as if they never borrowed that money from you, you don’t bring it up again. However, you may decide never to lend them money again since they didn’t repay you the first time.
If someone hurts or abuses you, they should “repay” you by apologizing & making things right if at all possible. Chances are slim that will happen if you’re dealing with a narcissist or even if that person is simply selfish &, well, a jerk.
This situation leaves you with 2 choices- wait for that apology or forgive them the debt of owing you that apology. Personally, I opt to forgive, & quickly.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down on your wrath,” (KJV). Nowhere in this Scripture does it say doing this will make you feel warm & fuzzy! God basically says you just need to release the need for that person to make it up to you for what they did. Once you realize this, you also realize that in time your emotions will catch up, that you won’t feel angry any longer.
I think there is also a common misconception that when your emotions catch up, even thinking about what happened will no longer upset you. However, I don’t believe that is quite the case.
It isn’t a sign of unforgiveness if what they did to you stirs up some emotion.
I don’t think or talk about my late mother in-law very often. She passed away last year & prior to that, I hadn’t spoken to her in 14 years. She was a very skilled covert narcissist, & after tolerating her abuse for the first 8 years of my relationship with my husband, I simply couldn’t take anymore.
Yesterday, I was working on a book I’ve been writing. I mentioned how once in 1999 (I think anyway.. around that time), my mother in-law wanted me to do something for her. I had an appointment that day, so I told her I couldn’t do it. Granted, I probably could have moved some things around & been there for her, but I didn’t want to. She was horrible to me- why would I want to help her? As soon as I said I wasn’t available, my mother in-law tried to find out why. She used guilt, shame, & even demands to find out what was so important that I couldn’t help her. I refused to tell her. Not only was it none of her business but she would have told her daughters what was happening with me (not their business either) & she probably would’ve found some way to use the information I gave her to hurt me at some future date.
Remembering this incident still angers me to a degree. I thought it must be a sign that I haven’t forgiven her. But, once I thought that, God quickly revealed to me that is not the case.
Forgiving someone completely doesn’t necessarily mean you never feel emotions over the awful things they did to you. You can forgive someone completely, yet still feel some anger about the fact that they hurt or used you. If you didn’t feel that way, chances are you would ignore signs that show you are about to be used & hurt that same way again.
So, the next time someone tells you that you need to work on forgiving someone, remember what I said, Dear Reader. Chances are, you have forgiven that person as God wants you to. xoxo