What Forgiveness is “NOT”

                                                                              You’ve been wronged … wronged by your spouse, parent, child, friend or coworker. You thought you could trust them. They let you down. It hurts. The pain runs deep inside you. What makes things worse, you didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t your fault. Every day the painful video plays inside your head. You cannot erase it from your mental hard drive. Bitterness, resentment, and anger all start to flood your emotions.

How can you be released from this hurt? What can be done? Well, you’ve got a couple of choices. And only one is the right choice. You can choose to hold onto the hurt and spend the rest of your life with the pain, bitterness, and anger. Or you can choose to be released from it, healed and freed. It all comes down to a decision … a decision to forgive the person who has hurt you.

There are a lot of misunderstandings and misconceptions about forgiveness. Let me tell you what forgiveness is NOT.

  1. Forgiveness is not a feeling. If it were, we would rarely forgive others because we would not “feel” like it.
  2. Forgiveness is not a weakness. A lot of strength is required to acknowledge the pain, declare it, and  forgive it.
  3. Forgiveness does not mean pretending it didn’t happen or hiding from it.
  4. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. The phrase “forgive and forget” is not reality.
  5. Forgiveness does not mean condoning or excusing a wrong. And it doesn’t minimize or justify the wrong. We can forgive the person without excusing the act.
  6. Forgiveness is not pardoning what they did. A pardon is a legal transaction that releases an offender from the consequences of their actions. Forgiveness does not release the person who did the wrong from any consequences. There may still be consequences.
  7. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciling. In fact, it does not require reconciliation. That is a separate issue. Reconciliation may follow forgiveness, but we can forgive an offender without re-establishing the relationship.
  8. Forgiveness is not based on the wrongdoer’s actions. Even if the other person never apologizes and asks for forgiveness, we need to forgive.
  9. Forgiveness is not conditional. It’s not an, “If you do this … this … and this, then, and only then, will I forgive you.”
  10. Forgiveness is not about changing the other person, their actions, or their behavior.
  11. Forgiveness does not mean trust. Forgiveness should be freely given. Trust must be earned. As I shared in a previous blog, trust is built in very small moments.
  12. Forgiveness is not about changing the past it’s about changing the future. Forgiveness accepts and addresses the past but focuses on the future. It looks toward a future of healing and hope.

Take the time to read, think about, and absorb these statements – it may change the way you see forgiveness. It may change your life. It did mine.

Until next time …



Forgiveness – Is It Possible?

Who is that person in your life?  The person who, every time you think about him or her, the pain comes back? You might have said the words “I forgive you.” But deep in your heart, the pain of what they did or said still echoes inside of you. You want to be free from the hurt, but you feel stuck. Each of us goes through experiences in life that cause hurt. You may have been wounded very deeply. That hurt might have been done intentionally or unintentionally. No matter the circumstances, you need to totally forgive.

In his book “Total Forgiveness,” R.T. Kendall does a wonderful job teaching about the overwhelming challenge we are given to forgive those who have wounded us deeply. Kendall begins by explaining the lies we believe about forgiveness. After explaining what forgiveness is not, he does a masterful job explaining the process of forgiveness and the difference between a surface level forgiveness and totally forgiving someone.

Forgiveness is not easy. But it is not impossible, either. You must make the choice to forgive. The consequences of choosing un-forgiveness are devastating. You can have freedom from the hurts of the past.

This is such an important subject, forgiveness, and is not often understood, nor addressed in counselling as it should.  I am devoting these next blogs to the subject, and will endeavour to walk you through the “forgiveness process.” It has helped me tremendously in my life, and I believe it will do the same for you.

Again, I invite your comments, and experiences you have had with forgiveness.

Until next time.