We’ve all been wronged or hurt by others at some point in our lives. Sometimes those who hurt us didn’t really mean to, and they apologize. That is a wonderful thing. But, in especially traumatic circumstances, often the person is never confronted with the truth of their actions, or if it is brought to light, they deny that it even happened. That’s when we have to decide if we are going to forgive them anyway. Not for their sake, but for our own.
Part of the problem with forgiving others comes with the interpretation of what forgiveness really means.
Wikipedia defines it as follows: Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning (failing to see the action as wrong and in need of forgiveness), excusing (not holding the offender as responsible for the action), pardoning (granted by a representative of society, such as a judge), forgetting (removing awareness of the offense from consciousness), and reconciliation (restoration of a relationship).
After writing about her own personal traumas while growing up, and exposing some of the heart-wrenching situations she experienced with both of her parents, Bonnie Gray, author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace has been asked in several interviews: Have you forgiven those who hurt you? How has forgiveness played a role in your story.
In her blog post “What Does It Mean to Really Forgive?” Bonnie explains what forgiveness DOESN’T mean:
Forgiveness does not mean trust is freely granted or automatically restored.
Forgiveness does not mean you don’t have boundaries, if their actions are unhealthy or cause you emotional, spiritual, [or] physical harm.
Forgiveness does not mean giving someone who has hurt you license to hurt you again.
Forgiveness does [not] mean open borders to toxicity, fear or intimidation to manipulate you into being the friend, girlfriend, co-worker, daughter, ministry worker, wife, … (fill in the blank), fashioned in someone else’s image. …
Forgiveness does not mean we don’t talk about it.
Forgiveness does not mean we hide our stories. And pretend it didn’t happen.
We’re all broken in some way. We all have wounds.
So, we still have to take the journey to heal, to grieve, and cry — in order to find what’s beautiful, to awaken our hearts to what’s real.
So, we can take better care of ourselves. To feed our souls. And begin to dream again.
Follow the link above to Bonnie’s post for today and read the whole thing. As usual, she shares some beautiful thoughts and reminds us of the importance of creating spiritual whitespace “to make room to receive from God what we’ve lost.”
How would forgiveness free up spiritual whitespace — room to rest and nurture your soul?