Can You Find Forgiveness?

jeansThere are many obstacles to forgiveness. Below are some common questions and answers to help achieve forgiveness:

1. “Why should I forgive them? They never forgave me! If someone makes me unhappy now, I am entitled to make him unhappy – that’s fair! It’s the principle of the thing.”

(Reply) Fairness has nothing to do with forgiveness. We are forgiving for us, not them. We need to let go of our emotional pain and feelings of hurt so we can move on with our lives.

2. “When I am angry, there is nothing I can do about it. I feel so powerless and depressed.”

(Reply) There is something you can do. One power that you have is the power of choice. You can choose to forgive them so you can gain the energy back that you have used to hold onto this painful event. It’s entirely up to you.

3. “Who am I to forgive anyone? I’m nobody.”

(Reply) You are not a “nobody.” You are imperfect, but so is ever other human. You are a worthwhile being in spite of your faults and imperfections, just like everyone else. You have as much right to forgive as anyone else, no more and no less.

4. “Why should I bother to forgive them? They don’t care whether I forgive them or not, so what’s the use?”

(Reply) You are not doing it for them. You are doing it for yourself. This is a choice you can make to gain control over your pain and to relieve your own pent-up emotions.

5.”Why should I forgive them? What they did was wrong!”

(Reply) Do we only forgive people who do right? That is absurd. Such people don’t need our forgiveness. People who wrong us make us angry. We are forgiving them to relieve the pain of our anger so we can get on with our lives.

6.”If I forgive them, it will be as if I were condoning what they did.”

(Reply) You are not being asked to condone their behavior, but to forgive them for perpetrating it. It is written: “Hate the Sin, not the Sinner.” Hating sinners poisons our lives and does not have much of an effect on them in the end, anyway.

7.”Why should I give them the satisfaction of forgiving them?”

(Reply) Are you living your life in terms of depriving others of their ‘satisfaction’? That cannot be a very gratifying lifestyle for you, and it doesn’t deprive them of anything they can’t live without. It’s a game you’re playing with yourself. You can choose to stop playing it anytime you want.

8. “I am afraid that if I forgive them it will make me vulnerable to being hurt again in the future.”

(Reply) Where is it written that if you don’t forgive, it will make you tough and invulnerable? You cannot prevent hurtful things from happening to you in an imperfect world by refusing to forgive. That is not ‘strength of character’, that’s sulking and pouting. There is no connection between holding a grudge and security. You are able to cope with hurtful things in the future as they come, just like anyone else. You don’t need to prevent them from happening. The irony is that your anger is giving rise to anxiety, which creates the insecurity you are trying so hard to overcompensate for!

9.”If I forgive them, I will forfeit my entitlement to get revenge on them someday!”

(Reply) Are you afraid that if you forgive them, the judge will throw your case out of court? That is absurd. There is no judge and no court, just angry people who don’t know how to relieve their own distress. Does this dream of vindication in the unspecified future make you happy right now? Or does it merely prevent you from living your life? Your anger is pushing you to put these people first in your life and yourself last. Life is too short for this mean, petty spitefulness. You pay a high price for reserving the right to be as cruel to them as they were to you.

10. “I can’t forgive them. They are guilty of a crime against me. They have wounded me to the heart. It’s unforgivable what they did!”

(Reply) They have hurt you terribly, and your pain and anger are real. What is not appropriate is your standing in judgment on their guilt. That is a full-time job. It hurts you long after the event. It leaves emotional scars that were not treated by your doctors. Writing the perpetrator an anger letter will help clear the way to forgiving this terrible person for what he did, not for his benefit, but for yours. He was a terribly imperfect human being. His crime against you left you terribly angry at him and at yourself for “allowing it to happen” or for “failing to prevent it. Human imperfection is regrettable, but forgivable in the privacy of your own heart. “Do I have to send it?” I wouldn’t waste the stamp, but it’s your call.

Father teaches daughter image available from Shutterstock.

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Shared by: Aaron Karmin, LCPC, Contributing Blogger

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