What is forgiveness?
To answer this question we first need to look at what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness is not simply forgetting that someone has hurt us or caused a great deal of pain.
Forgiveness is not just saying that you accept someone’s apology. Forgiveness is not always easy, and sometimes it is very hard, especially if someone has been deeply hurt.
When someone has been deeply scarred emotionally, physically, or abused sexually. Forgiveness can be very hard. Because many times the victim or person who needs to learn to forgive does not truly want to forgive. Because holding on to the hurt and damage is one way to continually hold past wrongs over someone else.
This can seem to be justifiable and even give the victim a sense of control. This is especially true in the case of child abuse. When an adult who was abused as a child holds tightly to the wrong that was done to them this causes an intense bitterness.
It can and often will cause mental health problems.
Forgiveness is not just for the person who caused the hurt, it is more for the victim. The reason is because no one can ever go back into the past and change wrongs they have done.
Childhood innocence cannot ever be given back. Holding onto past hurts from childhood or any time really only creates a sense of continued abuse for the victim.
By allowing yourself to completely forgive someone who has wronged you, you release the pressing burden and heartache of something that can never be changed or fixed.
True forgiveness is accepting that yes something bad did happen, yes someone was guilty, and yes someone was innocent. *This is especially true in the case of a child. Anyone can be abused, and many people have been abused. It is unlikely that all abuse will ever be completely eradicated anytime soon.
True forgiveness does not mean that you say “well this was how I was raised; this is what I know so I will continue…” That is how abuse is continued one generation to the next. That is called accepting abuse as normal, when it is not.
Forgiveness is more than just saying “I forgive you”. It is turning all of the hurt and pain over to God. Fully trusting that God will in his time work everything out, it is also not continuing the abuse.
Many children who have grown up in abusive homes go on to abuse their own children. But not all do. The ones who abuse their own children and families and even those outside their family, have come to accept abuse as normal and acceptable.
Abuse is never acceptable, and it is never normal. Even if everyone in your family has participated in abuse either as a victim or a perpetrator.
You can forgive those who have caused you a great deal of harm, but it is not easy, and it does not happen overnight. For someone who does not believe in the gospel of Christ to me it would seem that it would be much harder to forgive, than for someone who has fully trusted and accepted the gospel of Christ.
The reason I say this is because sometimes to forgive someone it takes a more grace and mercy than anyone has without God’s divine intervention. I am not saying it is impossible but it can be very, very hard.
It is easier for a Christian to forgive for one reason and only one reason, and that is knowing that if it were not but by the grace of God they themselves could be exactly the same as the one who abused or condoned the abuse of them.
Abuse is never normal and is never right. It is also something that creates serious problems in families. Because of the abuse, condoning of abuse, or denial of abuse, relationships are severed.
This can even become a stumbling block in the Christians life.
I will go into more detail as to how in my next article on this subject.