Ten Things Forgiveness Is Not

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  1. Forgiveness is not the acceptance of injustice.
  2. Forgiveness is not a reason to keep things the way they always have been.
  3. Forgiveness is not incompatible with loving anger.
  4. Forgiveness does not eliminate the need for mutual communication.
  5. Forgiveness is not yet reconciliation.
  6. Forgiveness is not a moment but a process.
  7. Forgiveness does not forget history.
  8. Forgiveness does not create illusions but engages deeply with what is real.
  9. Forgiveness is not a straight line.
  10. Forgiveness is not something that we do alone, but only with the grace of God.

Photo by Jose A.Thompson on Unsplash.

22 COMMENTS

  1. Hi, I can’t seem to forgive someone, a family friend or ours in fact we considered her and her family as relatives. We used to visit and go to their house during special occasions , my mom would cook for them and help them whenever they are in need. There was even a time when she’ll take care of a sick member of their family. Although in exchange for my Mom’s help, my so called Aunt would treat her with things which my mom did not ask. My mom died last 5 years ago and she did not even once visit her wake until the funeral. We did not hear from her or even sent any sympathy token for my Mom. I got so disappointed because she is one of the persons I expected to show sympathy after all what my Mom had done for their family. I can’t forgive now…what should I do?

  2. When I want to forgive but cannot, I pray this prayer: “Father, I am choosing to forgive (the person or persons). I’m not sure I want to, I’m not sure they deserve it, and I know I cannot do it by myself, so I am making this choice to forgive. I trust you will put my heart and my spirit in line with my head’s choice, and I thank you.”
    Then I let it go. This prayer has never failed. At some point, usually fairly soon, I realize I no longer hold the resentment and the pain. I am free to move on in my relationship with God.

  3. This is challenging when you and your spouse have truly been victimized. No wrong doing short of trusting others and believing that your 25+ year legacy and quality work meant something….and now facing loss of work, lifestyle, finances, “friendships”. So hard to wish “good” things for those with millions who have stepped on you…. trying to just not cry every day at this point….and looking to my faith in a loving God for healing.

  4. The person who has done the harm can go about their life unaffected (At times) while the harmed one is sick, resentful and in torment. So one is suffering and one is not. One must forgive, as apart from it being what we are supposed to do as Christians, it can effect our Health as well as our soul. This does not mean we forget, but wasn’t the saying: To forgive is divine??? I had to learn the hard way to forgive , as it really did affect my soul and my health, even if some people thought I was being delusional. No one is perfect. A.M.D.G.

  5. I am only getting down to replying now. This article was varying meaningful to me as i have gone through a lot hurt this year. However I would appreciate come clarification of ‘Forgiveness is not a reason to keep things the way they always have been’. For some reason I just can/t get my head around this.

    • Hi,
      In writing, “Forgiveness is not a reason to keep things the way they always have been,” I was thinking of situations where I have sometimes thought,” if I forgive, then it means I have to believe that I have to go back to the situation as it currently exists or that I am affirming it is okay. For example, in a marriage or friendship, there could be an unhealthy dynamic between the two people that needs to change. I can forgive the other person for his or her part, and myself for mine, but still realize: in the present and future, we need to change the dynamic between us. Or I might forgive another person for making a sexist comment, and still think about how can I work to change sexism. I hope that helps to clarify what I had in mind. Thanks for asking.

  6. This is important to learn, I’ve found that forgiveness has helped me to heal, to live in the present. Being unforgiving keeps you stuck in the past and the pain.
    Forgive for Good, I learned a a lot about forgiveness.

    • Probably a subject for another post but I think forgiveness is releasing resentment and hurt over time, choosing to desire the other’s good, and, more deeply, loving others (and oneself) as God loves.

  7. Thank you. My sister and I were raised in a disfintional family, were more like competitors than friends. We are the last in our family, still live in the same town, are fearful and distrustful of each other, we have disagreements with each other and stay away, then try again to communicate. Gratefully we are both Catholics and are praying for healthy relationships, a long road worth traveling.
    I have appreciated a number of your articles. Thank you, Sheila

    • You are welcome. I like that image of forgiveness as a long road, worth traveling. Thanks for sharing that with this community.

  8. Love this meditation as I struggle with “forgiveness”. Would like more insight on what is meant by-Forgiveness is not incompatible with loving anger. Are we loving our anger or holding a loving type of anger?

    • That is a good question.
      I did not mean loving the anger, but rather loving the person or persons with whom one is angry and expressing it as an aspect of love.
      For example, if an institution that I love has harmed others, I could be angry with the institution or its leaders as a way of expressing not only love for the persons harmed, but also as part of love for the very institution itself and a desire that it do better. Eventually the anger will also have to be let go, but it can serve a purpose for a time, and be part of the emotional dynamics of a longer process of forgiveness.

      • Marina, once again thank you for your explanation. So often when we hear about forgiveness and we can forget that often although we have forgiven as we have been forgiven we still often live with the side effects of the wrongs committed, which as you stated in your 10th point; for healing we need that wonderful grace of God.

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