Dismiss Notice

Welcome to Christian Forums, a friendly forum to discuss Christianity in a friendly surrounding.

Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
  • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
  • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting after you have posted 20 posts and have received 5 likes.
  • Access to private conversations with other members.

We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

What is true forgiveness?

Discussion in 'Ethics & Morality' started by flowerforever7, Oct 27, 2010.

  1. flowerforever7

    flowerforever7 Newbie

    Messages:
    412
    Likes Received:
    1
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Christian
    Hi,

    Some time ago another Christian handled me in a manipulative and decietful way. We had a long dialog and I confronted her about it. She doesn't seem to see how her behavior was wrong. She said that she wanted to start our relationship on a clean slate. She said she apologizes for anyway she has hurt me. I told her I forgive her for her wrong toward me, but that she has lost my trust. I let her know that due to the fact she refuses to own up to her wrong in the situation (manipulating me and being decietful), I can no longer allow her to have intimate access to my life. Her behavior toward me was hurtful and damaging.

    I have been told that trust is something that is earned; rightly so I believe. It seems wise to keep a safe distance from her due to the damage she caused, and to prevent any further damage from happening due to the fact she does not see her actions as wrong. It would be a different story if she owned up to what she did, apologized for it and made it her aim not to treat me or anyone else like that in the future.

    At the same time, the Scriptures talk about to forgive how the Lord forgave you. I think about the Scriptures that talk about how God remembers our transgressions no more, and that He throws our sins as far as the east is from the west. When I come to God, one of the things I love is that He chooses to forget my transgressions against Him, and that His mercies are new every morning. I love that I can have intimacy with Him again when I seek forgiveness. I want God to keep forgiving me this way. I know the Scriptures say that if you do not forgive your brother from your heart the Lord won't forgive you. Here's my question:

    Does true forgiveness mean willfully choosing not to remember this Christian's transgressions against me? She has asked forgiveness (for hurt she has caused me), but will not own up to what she did. I don't want her to walk away from the situation thinking her behavior was okay, and that it is okay to treat other people like that. At the same time, I wonder in my mind if I am not truly forgiving her as the Lord forgave me as I am not willfully forgetting her transgressions against me, and seeking peace. I do forgive her in my heart. I just do not believe that I can trust this person to have close access to my life without causing damage. But when the Lord forgives me, He chooses to remember my sins no more and I have full restored intimacy with Him. I want to make sure I am forgiving as the Lord has forgiven me.

    Help??? Anyone have advice? I know that in these types of forums people can be very supportive. I am looking for honest answers to my question that consider the state of my soul. I want to be saved. I don't want to sin against God, or be cut off from being forgiven by God because I am not forgiving the way He has forgiven me.

    Any insight is appreciated; especially Scripture based insight.

    Thanks.
     
  2. joey_downunder

    joey_downunder big sister

    Messages:
    3,084
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Baptist
    I struggle with this issue as well with my mother. A lot was said and done in the past that I think I have forgiven her - and she apologised sincerely for almost everything she had done - but I feel I still can't trust her. Thankfully circumstances have led to me living thousands of kilometres away so I never have to see her except on very rare occasions.

    Here is a good link: Forgive & Remember

    1 John 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

    To me that sounds like we have to admit we have sinned and ask God for forgiveness before God forgives us. Your friend hasn't done that.
     
  3. keith99

    keith99 Senior Member

    Messages:
    16,205
    Likes Received:
    132
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Atheist
    I cannot say I have the answer. But I know what true forgiveness is not. It is not pretending somethgni never happened and it is not 'Forgive and forget'.

    If one has a friend who has a weakness with Alcohol who has done hurtful things when drunk, forgiveness is not forgetting about it. Of course it is not throwing it in their face all the time, but it is also knowing their weakness and if they start to slip trying to keep them from falling and if they fall trying to keep them from hurting themself or others.

    Forgiveness also is not trying to create a grand gesture that yuo know is all but sure to fail.

    Hope this is of some use.
     
  4. rambot

    rambot Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,437
    Likes Received:
    79
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Politics:
    CA-Greens
    Faith:
    Christian
    I'm not sure that changing your own behaviours (ie.... not allowing her into a particular part of your life) is that bad, so long as it's temporary.

    Give your friend the opportunity to earn back your trust. If she fails, then help her and love her but that doesn't mean you have to remain close to her....
     
  5. OldWiseGuy

    OldWiseGuy Sanctimonious old crackpot

    Messages:
    13,545
    Likes Received:
    114
    Faith:
    Protestant
    God grants us forgiveness of others through his indwelling spirit. We eventually are healed of hurtful offences by others and they no longer bother us. Of course we may understandably choose not to associate with or be close to that person again. We don't 'forget' the offence, but we do forget the pain caused by it.
     
  6. Eudaimonist

    Eudaimonist I believe in life before death!

    Messages:
    24,974
    Likes Received:
    431
    Gender:
    Male
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Politics:
    US-Libertarian
    Faith:
    Atheist
    If she hasn't owned up to what she did and admitted that it was wrong, there is no authentic request for forgiveness. That is not asking for forgiveness, but asking for you to overlook the hurt she did you. She could hurt you again and feel fully justified.

    I'm not a Christian, but from what I understand from the Christian perspective, you don't have to open yourself up to repeated abuse from someone who won't admit that what they did was wrong. You don't have to continue any friendship as if nothing had happened, just because someone asks you to. You don't need to forget the offense in your mind.

    However, you may need to "forget" the offense in your heart. IOWs, don't seek revenge. Don't nourish hatred. Move on with your life.


    eudaimonia,

    Mark
     
  7. DaisyDay

    DaisyDay blind squirrel

    Messages:
    20,067
    Likes Received:
    115
    Marital Status:
    Married
    Faith:
    Unitarian
    You can forgive her for the hurt she caused you in the past and for the hurt she will cause you in the future without ever forgetting that she is a hurtful person. Forgiving her for what she is doesn't mean pretending she is otherwise.

    If by "trust" you mean pretend she is someone you want her to be rather than who she actually is, then you would be dishonest in the relationship, too.

    I have a friend who lies compulsively (troubled childhood, plus OCD). When she tells me something, I don't automatically assume she's lying, but I know that she may be. If it's at all important, I'll verify. She's the oldest friend I have, but ... I do limit the contact I have with her to my own timing and terms.

    You say your friend manipulates you - but she may honestly not think she does, she may think she's either being sincere at that moment or think that is simply what all people do (there are people like that, who are really, really good at manipulation because they practice it several times a day whether consciously or not, often not).

    Now that you are aware of what's going on, it is your responsibility to deal with it - you can no longer blame only her. She can't manipulate you without your consent. If you feel like it is your Christian duty to continue to be friends with her, do it with a kind heart and your eyes open.
     
  8. keith99

    keith99 Senior Member

    Messages:
    16,205
    Likes Received:
    132
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Atheist
    Following is a link to something by C.S. Lewis. It is about forgiveness and makes some points it seems many people have never considered.

    For a Christian one of those points might be vital.

    Essay on Forgiveness by C. S. Lewis
     
  9. Mling

    Mling Knight of the Woeful Countenance (in training)

    Messages:
    5,963
    Likes Received:
    32
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Politics:
    US-Democrat
    Faith:
    Agnostic
    I think of forgiveness as letting go of the anger associated with the harm--not necessarily the feeling of being hurt. As, if you think of the situation again, you can do it without getting worked up about that person being bad, or how ticked off you are at them.

    It's possible to do that, and still decide that you don't want to have a relationship with somebody. After all, if there's a boulder rolling down a hill at you, you don't have to hate the boulder in order to decide that you should stay out of its way. If you'll be a better, healthier person, better able to cope with your life and give back to your community, without this person in your life, it might be a good idea to stay away from her.

    Personally, there have been two people in my life, in recent years, who I really needed to forgive for hurting me. One sorta-partially admitted she'd done some things wrong, but refused to take responsibility for it and remained a very toxic person. We mutually cut off contact--her out of anger, me out of self-protection and exhaustion-- and I don't regret it. The other, once I explained to her what was wrong, immediately recognized what she'd done and sorta-partially apologized, but I don't think she understood the full extent of how hurt I was. Even so, she acknowledged she'd hurt me and explained -why- she'd done what she did, without trying to excuse herself of it. (Unlike a lot of people, I do appreciate explanations). I've maintained the relationship with her.

    Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to stay in the relationship was, for me, and I think should be about whether they are healthy people to be in relationships with. Well-meaning people can screw up sometimes. They can make mistakes or give into a moment of spite.

    An event can be left in the past, but who the person is cannot be ignored. Forgive her, but don't ignore who she is. Don't leave her over this one incident, but if the incident, and her continuing attitude toward it, reveals something about who she is, it's ok to leave because you've learned she isn't a person you want a relationship with.
     
  10. SithDoughnut

    SithDoughnut The Agnostic, Ignostic, Apatheistic Atheist

    Messages:
    9,093
    Likes Received:
    1
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Faith:
    Atheist
    Why must people put the word 'true' in front of everything? It's a redundant adjective; something either is or it isn't. True forgiveness would be exactly the same as normal forgiveness, i.e. excusing someone of something they have done, and not holding it against them.
     
  11. keith99

    keith99 Senior Member

    Messages:
    16,205
    Likes Received:
    132
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Atheist
    No, to the extent you are excusing an action yuo are not forgiving it.
     
  12. SithDoughnut

    SithDoughnut The Agnostic, Ignostic, Apatheistic Atheist

    Messages:
    9,093
    Likes Received:
    1
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Faith:
    Atheist
    Perhaps excusing was not the best word, but it's hard to come up with a definition that does not contain the word 'forgiveness'. Nonetheless, forgiveness and 'true' forgiveness are exactly the same thing.
     
  13. flowerforever7

    flowerforever7 Newbie

    Messages:
    412
    Likes Received:
    1
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Christian
    Thanks everyone for all the great insight. It’s appreciated; you guys gave a lot of great advice.
    @ SithDoughnut: I understand that it is possible to pass off an internal stance toward someone as forgiveness, when in fact it really is not. That is what I meant by “true forgiveness”. If you read the fourth block of text down in my post that may more fully define what I meant by that. But I do understand what you are saying though, technically I could have worded the title differently; but I think the point wasn’t lost in translation.
    @ aisyDay: Yes, I believe this may be a situation where she truly believes the way she acted was okay, and I may have been the first person to call her on it. I hope that she is not so resistant that she never at least thinks about what I said. It is hard to look inside sometimes and make an internal shift, especially when a person has not been aware of a fault up until that time. I don’t want to enable her to continue to act in a way that is unhealthy.
     
  14. SithDoughnut

    SithDoughnut The Agnostic, Ignostic, Apatheistic Atheist

    Messages:
    9,093
    Likes Received:
    1
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Faith:
    Atheist
    I read the block of text, and it looks like an internal stance to me. Remembering things is internal.
     
  15. keith99

    keith99 Senior Member

    Messages:
    16,205
    Likes Received:
    132
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Atheist
    Yes it is difficult coming up with non-circular definitions.

    Your use of excusing was actually better than most in that it dis not logically lead to only forgiving excusable actions.

    I do tend to agree with you about the current overuse of the word 'true' especially for abstract ideas. Come to think of it for non-abstract things the term 'real' seems to work better.

    I happen to have a real Chargers jersey. I can not say real San Diego Chargers jersey because I simply do not remember exactly where I bought it. Oh and it has no name or number. It really is a blank purchaced from the supplier of the Chargers and Rams at the time. (It is also a medium, though I wear an extra large).

    In the above case I think 'Real' actually has some meaning.
     
  16. benglobal

    benglobal A square peg in a round hole.

    Messages:
    180
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Faith:
    Oneness
    The power of forgiveness is the hardest thing to acheive in my veiw. It's easy to wax lyrical about how we should forgive but it's very hard. All the worthy things in life that have value are very hard, that's why these things are not adopted by the masses. We cannot change anybody else's actions only our own, they have to change their actions and so it follows that this person needs to acknowlegde that they were at fault. I would say that if you have forgiven her then that's fine but if you are not comfortable with this person close to your life then you have already made up your mind. I would say that forgiveness between God and yourself is a thearetical forgiveness based on the teaching of the scriptures and that if heaven is a place after death then that is the time when you will know if forgiveness is yours to be granted. You are obviously a good person with love in your heart, be happy and don't chew yourself up over this dilemma.
     
  17. cafefan374

    cafefan374 Newbie

    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Politics:
    US-Democrat
    Faith:
    Non-Denominational
    True forgiveness is not seeking revenge, but it does not mean neglecting justice, and contrary to what many ppl think, forgiveness is NOT a one time event.
     
  18. Jade Margery

    Jade Margery Stranger in a strange land

    Messages:
    3,019
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    In Relationship
    Faith:
    Agnostic
    THREAD NECROMANCY PEEPS.

    Nothing to see here, move along, let's let the dead lie.

    Newbie, please try not to resurrect threads that have been dead for months.
     
  19. cafefan374

    cafefan374 Newbie

    Messages:
    73
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    Single
    Politics:
    US-Democrat
    Faith:
    Non-Denominational
    I was just sharing my point of view on what forgiveness is, I do not recall any written rules about this thread so I felt that I was free to state my stance.
     
  20. Contented

    Contented Newbie

    Messages:
    516
    Likes Received:
    0
    Marital Status:
    Private
    Faith:
    Christian
    People seem to be confused with forgiveness and reconciliation. I had an unfaithful husband and we eventually divorced. A member of my church told me IF I forgive my husband, I WILL HAVE TO GO BACK WITH HIM.
    I have forgiven my ex, BUT I do not want him back in my life.
    From what I read in the bible, forgiveness is a characteristic all Christians must have. Unless we forgive we cannot receive forgiveness. The wrong that has been done will never be forgotten, since our minds are wired in such a way that we CANNOT forget what has happened. The key is not to allow the incident(s) to control us to the point that we are obsessed with the hurt.

    Forgiveness frees the forgiver.

    I think the classic biblical example is that of Joseph. He suffered at the hands of his brothers. He could have used his position to hit back. He forgave them. He also had people like Potifar's wife, and the baker do him wrong.
    The key I think is not holding on grudges, nor allowing it to consume our every moment. WE MUST LET GO.

    Just my two cents worth.
     
    Humble Pie likes this.
Loading...