3 Reasons Forgiveness is Difficult

“Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established………Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation………Forgiveness does not excuse anything………You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……”    ~William Paul Young, The Shack

In this amazing quote, the author sums up why it is so difficult to forgive.  The first reason most people find forgiveness difficult, is because they think it creates a relationship afterwards, which is simply not true.  A relationship means that both parties are willing to move forward, and sometimes, that’s just not the case.

As he stated, forgiveness in NO way requires that you trust the one you forgive.  Recently my daughter and I were talking about this very thing.  I asked her about becoming friends again with someone who had, in fact, repeatedly hurt her.  She says to me “Mother, << (yes that’s what she said), I gave them three tries and each time I tried again, they did something and broke my confidence.  I don’t trust them.  Three strikes and they are out.  How many times do you think I should give them?”  I told her that three actually seemed like a fairly decent amount of times to try again to trust someone because surely without trust, you can’t have friendship.

She says this is why I have trust issues…and at 15 years old, no one should be hurt over and over again by someone who is supposed to be a “friend”.  It really deeply hurts, and it causes pain on a very deep emotional level to think you have trusted that person and asked for mutual love, understanding, and certain boundaries to find that they don’t honor their word.

In the next part of this quote, the author speaks of the “bridge of reconciliation”, and I want to make note here, the longer you wait to do this, the less likely the bridge building will occur.  Stubbornly, my daughter refused to reach out to the person who hurt her, and I didn’t press it.  In our eyes, we feel that the person who has caused us harm should be the one to reach out and say “Hey, you are right.  You told me repeatedly that this was a line that once crossed, would not be okay.  But I didn’t listen and respect your wishes.  I kept crossing it over and over and over and over again.”  Because truthfully, we do feel that way in our heads.

For my daughter, gossiping about her is a line, which I wholeheartedly agree should not be crossed if you tell someone your inner truths in confidence.  However, I did explain that in high school, sometimes girls her age are just not as emotionally mature and were not raised the same way.  It is the same with adults whether we like it or not.  What point of reference does the person have you are speaking with and are they able to see it from your perspective?  Chances are, their own limitations will not allow them to step back and look at it from your eyes.

Lastly, forgiveness does NOT mean that you excuse anything.  Remember that forgiveness is a gift you are giving yourself.  You are in no way, shape or form saying “Man.  This feels good to be hurt over and over again, by the same exact thing, for years.”  Whether you are a teenager, or an adult, the very act might always be with you of what happened.  It’s hard not to remember it when it was such a let down, and a painful experience.  Like the time my daughter got our house ready for a party, invited her friends and not one of them showed up.  The house was clean, the food was bought and they all bailed at the last-minute.  This is not excusable.  It shows that they didn’t value her, her feelings, or anything she went through to get ready for her summer end of school party.  The hurt in her beautiful eyes was almost too much to bear as a mother, and no one wants to have friends like that.

But even then, as we entered school the following September, I encouraged her to let go of those thoughts as best she could.  The pain of not being cared about, or even to be thought of as a priority to her friends has lasted and made it difficult for her to make new friends, but I know that it has taught her how to be a better friend to others and what not to do as she continues to move forward in life.

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
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