In the previous article we looked at what forgiveness wasn’t, which may sound strange, but is very necessary in understanding the true nature of forgiveness. For many people, forgiveness is synonymous with being okay with what happened to you, or being willing to keep allowing it to happen. Obviously, for forgiveness to happen, you need to know exactly what it is, and what it isn’t.
So here goes… the final installment in what forgiveness doesn’t mean for you:
Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting:
Forgive and forget is not a reality, so stop wasting your time trying. If the wound is deep enough, you are unlikely to forget it. Ever. In fact, forgetting is probably not in your best interest, anyway, because forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you should now make yourself vulnerable to further attack.
Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that you are willing to be wounded again and again. Part of recovering from hurt is learning to respect and protect yourself in future, which can only happen when you are willing to learn from the past.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you are not affected by it anymore:
There is no rule that says that once you forgive someone, you won’t be affected by what they did to you anymore. If something hurts, it hurts. If someone caused you heartbreak, then you will need time to heal and work through the pain. Forgiving someone doesn’t impact the level of pain you feel, or even how long you will experience it.
You may experience pain at the thought of what happened to you for years after you have chosen to forgive the act. Forgiveness frees you from bitterness and resentment, not from grief and pain. So don’t confuse the two, or assume that your efforts to forgive have failed simply because it still hurts.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean that person needs to stay in your life:
While “forgive and forget” may be only a half truth, “live and learn” is not. If someone is an unhealthy influence in your life, or is unrepentant about how they treated you, then you need to give yourself some healthy distance. Sometimes that distance is significant. And sometimes it lasts a lifetime.
You can forgive your abuser, but that doesn’t mean you should invite them to move back in. You can forgive a cheating spouse, but that doesn’t mean you should stay in a marriage with them. Forgiveness doesn’t require that you make yourself a victim. Nor does it mean that you should ever have to endure those specific wounds again.
We hope this series was helpful in providing some clarification, some useful instruction, and most of all, some motivation to pursue forgiveness in the wake of your divorce. It can be a difficult journey, but the rewards at the end are, without a doubt, worth it!. We wish you hope and healing as you move forward in your life.