I am currently reading “Go In Peace” by Pope John Paul II, and I got to the section on forgiveness and reconciliation and became confused by what I read. I acknowledge that I am awful about forgiveness and am a first class grudge holder, but do I have to forgive someone if they never apologize or admit that they wronged me? I always understood that we are called to forgive everyone for any wrong they commit against us. The part in the book I am struggling with says, “Forgiveness, far from precluding the search for truth, actually requires it. Evil that has been done must be acknowledged and, as far as possible, corrected.” Does this mean that I only have to forgive someone if they apologize and work to correct the wrong they have committed against me?
I forgave a person and then the same happened. This time I’ve forgiven in my heart but since the person hasn’t apologized, I think it would be rather prideful of me to tell her I’ve forgiven her if she doesn’t think she did anything wrong.
There’s a saying: Hurt me once, shame on you. Hurt me twice, shame on me.
Can’t be a punching bag.
Short answer to your question… YES!!!
Let me share with you some thoughts that belongs to others far wiser and holier than I’ll ever be (who once shared them with me). First thing… forgiveness is not so much about the other person who wronged or hurt you. It is first about you, and even more importantly our relationship with God. The Lord’s Prayer doesn’t say forgive us our tresspasses as others come and ask for our forgivness… it says as we forgive those who trespass against us. I know when I’m holding onto a grudge or a hurt that I become further and further from God. The feelings of hurt and anger separate me from Him, and because of that separation, I get even more hurt and angry, which further separates me… etc. Very vicious cycle.
Secondly, forgiveness is for you! Especially if the other party doesn’t try to reconcile, they aren’t really affected (at least directly) by your lack of forgiveness. And if they don’t care enough to reconcile, then why would they care that you are unable to forgive and are holding onto all of that anger and hurt? Lack of forgiveness can even be deadly for some (it almost was for me… I know of others who have gone from being hard working high functioning individuals to being practically disabled and unable to get out of their house, much less work, because of that lack of forgiveness). I’ve heard from various therapists that sometimes the best revenge for those who hurt you is to live your life well and be happy. Forgiveness ultimately leads to letting go of the hurt and anger towards the other person… and by that letting go, becoming loosed from those bonds. I can tell you from personal experience how freeing forgiveness is.
Final thoughts… This is some advise I was given in the confessional a few weeks ago… Forgiveness is when you don’t want the person who hurt you to face the final judgement for those actions that have hurt you. Also, Jesus said for us to pray for our enemies. It was when I started praying for those who had hurt me that I was able to start the process of forgiveness. I now no longer want those who have hurt me (and I’ve been hurt very badly several times, by several different people) to go to hell for what they did to me. I pray for their conversion just so they can experience the healing powers of the Sacrament of Confession (well, not just that reason, but that’s the primary reason).
There is forgiveness and forgetting… Forgiveness actually ensure that you don’t allow yourself to be placed in the same situation to be hurt again. It honestly acknowledges what happened (so one can examine the circumstances) and loves from a distance if need be. The other person has to gain back your trust… if they can’t, they don’t get the trust. We are called to love everyone, though.
Forgetting is more in line of being a punching bag.
I once heard that holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die of it.
I struggle with forgiveness myself.
Very true. I love from afar. Had too many good times that were way more than what happened. Was our hope, it would have continued. I do not want him/her to suffer in hell. If they showed up on my door, I’d welcome them but I would not trust them. That must be earned.
I’m not sure what you meant by the last sentence.
What I meant is that most people who end up being “punching bags”, so to speak, are the ones that ignore what has happened… they “forget” in other words. It’s easy to continue hurting others if all they do is forget, and not forgive.
Well written response. Forgiveness does not change what happened. It does effect our response to the person who hurt us.
I have an egg shaped scar on my wrist from childhood. An egg slipped off my brother’s plate and I was burned. If I held on to this incident, the emotional pain (the poison) would have continued long after the physical healing. It would have affected my relationship with my brother. Holding on to resentment blocks our relationships with one another and with God.
Of course there are more serious hurts that occur during life than an accidental injury. Sometimes we lack the ability to forgive the other person. Forgiveness is divine. We need God to forgive through us, to remove the grievance and bitterness before it has an opportunity to fester, to poison our soul.
Forgiveness is not always automatic. It is possible to discover an incident has not been fully forgiven as the grudge or bitterness we hold against the person who harmed us surfaces. In other words, it is possible to bury what happened. That is not forgiveness. Very often forgiveness is a process that occurs over time.in the same way that it takes time to recover from an illness.
All was a very good reply, as well! And the above reminded me that I forgot something!
As we can only love because God first loved us, so too can we only forgive because God first forgave us!
I was speaking with my priest today about a certain person who had hurt me badly in the past… and asked what it would “look like” so to speak, just to make sure that I have in fact forgiven this person… He asked me if when I see a picture of this person or hear his name whether I said “Son of a… [edited]” or “God bless him!”.
I often need to revise the wording of the Our Father: * Help me to forgive others as You forgive me.*
I was given a penance once… a paraphrase of “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief!”… I was to pray “I love, Lord. Help me where I do not love”. I suppose that the prayer could be expanded to “I forgive, Lord! Help my unforgivness!”