What Forgiveness Really Looks Like



I saw this on Facebook this morning and thought it was pretty accurate. I wanted to do more than just a brief comment on my feed.

In the first part, I’ve written about shaming before, namely that Jesus doesnt, so why do we? When it comes to forgiveness, no community lays on the guilt like we Christians, myself included. At least, I’m concerned that is how I sound when I speak of how quickly I was able to forgive. But reading this quote this morning explained to me one of the reasons I was quick.

I grieved the pain of my marriage from my wedding day. I cried myself to sleep that night, rejected, belittled, humiliated, basically the things Zelena likes to do to me. So, for 20 years before I left, I grieved. The most important grieving however took place beginning about a year ago, when I went public here on this blog. It was then I was fully validated. I had shared with some friends before that, but this was the big step, this was going to tell me exactly how my future would play out. Would it be what my mother threatened? Would it be what all those pastors and Christian leaders threatened?

The validation I received from my friends and certain members of my family and from people at my church hastened my ability to forgive.

Funny that, eh? That’s not what is often done in the church, is it? Or even, quite frankly, in society. Validation is usually denied the victim of anything, while the attention is placed on the criminal, the abuser, the adulterer.

Now, I want to emphasize that the forgiveness I give is daily, and incomplete, and it will be for everyone else as well. This idea of whole-hearted forgiveness is a lie. Anyone who has been a true victim of anything should realize that it is entirely impossible. And that is OK.

Let me explain how it happened in my life, because, I think this is pretty normal.

1) I “woke up” one day and realized that bitterness was controlling everything I did, every decision I made, and, therefore, Zelena still had control. It’s just as fun, I suppose, when you are as nasty a person as he, to watch your victim, who thinks he/she is free, to be internally controlled by all you programmed them for while you were together. I didn’t want him to have control, so I let it go.

2) And this is really important, I let go, I forgave, but it’s not technically all of it. And the reason is, I realized when I read this quote, doing so will stick you right back into the abuser’s power. I have noticed God graciously reminding me of the evil Zelena has perpetuated, and continues to, on a near daily basis. It does briefly threaten to control me, but then I let go, then it’s OK. The memories and the pain they cause are not unforgiveness, they are protection. They keep me from being stupid and taking Zelena back, which would destroy me and the kids. So God uses these things to keep us safe.

3) I try to be careful the influences I allow in my head. Don’t let damaging teaching into your mind, it will delay the healing process because then you have to deal with that. I have stopped listening to Air1 for just this reason. Their 59 Seconds of Hope feature gives out some terrible and damaging lies. Most Christians don’t think so. Most Christians don’t think, period. They don’t question. All a person has to do is say “I’m a Christian” and we immediately think their advice and opinions are not only valid, but 100% true. They are not. Examine everything in light of Christ’s teachings. There are a lot of Pharisees in the church, running the church, preaching on the radio. Look to Christ and ask for discernment.

The last example from 59 Seconds of Hope actually has to do with this very subject of forgiveness…The pastor said “I have something that will improve ALL your relationships.” That’s right, he promised this would fix EVERYTHING. “Forgive and forget.” That was his solution to every single relationship issue. Forgive, love, embrace the criminal, take your soul rapist back into your bed. There’s no other way, according to him. My steering wheel got a bad beating after those 59 seconds of hopelessness were over.

When you have been a victim of amything, abuse, rape, adultery, theft, you will find in Christ a validater of your pain, of your suffering, of your need. Would that the church truly lived as Christ and that you could heal with their help instead of being pushed away from healing by their false teachings and legalism created to make themselves feel comfortable.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. carlybenson says:

    Lots of wisdom here. I agree, we have to face up to what happened and grieve it to actually be in a position to forgive. It can be tempting to try to force it prematurely, especially if we’ve heard teaching that makes us think that it is the way to fix everything, but it’s not a quick-fix solution and as you say it is on-going.
    I like your comment about Jesus validating our pain and that we should be doing that for others and helping them on the road of healing. That’s so important.

    1. sarasamomx5 says:

      Yeah, the validation is important, I knew it was but recently I had a two separate situations that were almost the same. In one I was not validated in my experience. This woman was cruel and by her words I knew I could not speak to her anymore because I know controlling behavior when I see it now. Unfortunately, no one around me can quite bring themselves to agree, except my oldest son, and people who don’t know her. Our mutuals think she’s grand. There are a few other things she is doing to me that, having experienced this sort of behavior before, I know exactly what it’s about and exactly what kind of person she is. And I’m still going on and on about it. Why? Because I haven’t been validated. Whereas, in the other circumstance, one I was actually far more concerned about, I worried about it for a few weeks, then I spoke to my supervisor (who was brought into the “disagreement” by the other person) and she said I was fine, and I spoke with one more person about it and they explained that the woman is always like that and everyone (except me apparently knows it). I haven’t thought about it again until yesterday when a friend who I asked to pray about the situation asked me about it. Those are small examples, and I probably should have blogged about it it’s gotten so long. 😀

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