Forgiveness is something that typically people (and the perpetrator) expect a victim to come to terms with, wouldn’t you agree? You’ve seen it in crime series on TV or during a press conference where a family talks about the verdict. “We forgive him/her for doing XYZ to our family member” Forgiveness is supposed to bring peace to the victim and the victims’s family..right?
So let’s talk every day examples. Lets say someone at work is being really nasty to you and did something shady behind your back but they didn’t do it just once, they did it 5 times or more. Would forgiving that person bring you peace? For me..Hell no. Forgiving someone in this type of situation is enabling them to continue to walk all over you and do the behaviors again. What would bring me peace is telling the person “Look, I think what you did was messed up. I don’t like the way that you talk to me or about me. From here on out, I think we should keep it professional and try to work this out on our own. If you continue to be so blatantly rude to me, I’d like to bring our boss or Human Resources into this” I don’t condone forgiving someone over and over again for their same shitty ass behavior. Make sense?
Why is forgiveness so glamorized?
Forgiveness is glamorized for a few reasons. But the main reason is religion. Most people would shy away from talking about controversial topics like religion, sex, politics..but I can’t. These underlying principles that have been engraved into our minds impact our mental health and how we deal with those around us. Most organized Christian religions will tell ya that forgiveness of others is the way to get forgiven by God. I have a few problems with that and I will tell you why in these next three Bible verses. Forgiveness is glamorized because there is a false sense of peace associated with forgiveness.
Luke 6:27 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you”
Lets break this down. Here is what I am getting from this: I should love my enemies and do good to those who hate me? So when someone rapes me, I should do good for them? When someone has a child with me and then refuses to participate in her life or provide any financial support, I should just do good for them? HA, what a joke.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
I think it is clear that I am not religious and I don’t agree with a lot of the principles of Christianity or any other organized religion (but I support others who do and I actually love going to church because I love the community of church) I think that this above verse is toxic. If I don’t forgive others who have done my wrong..then God (who isn’t human) won’t forgive me either..gotcha….makes sense….
Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”
This is why I think that most religious teachings are about typically about control (specifically about controlling women). In the real world, what this means is that if your husband continues to abuse you, you should forgive him over and over again (remember in the eyes of God you are married forever even if you are legally divorced). It means that if you are being raped by your biological father, you should continue to forgive him. It means that if you are being mentally and emotionally berated by a family member, keep them around 77 more times until when..you jump off the deep end? I mean seriously. This shit just seems so toxic to me.
“Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness, but because you deserve peace.” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
To me, this just doesn’t make sense. I think that when our peace is hung up on whether or not we are forgiving the person who did us wrong is actually giving the person more power to control us (our thoughts, our timeline, our lives).
My peace has nothing to do with forgiving others who did me wrong. In fact, its the opposite. I feel more peace by standing up for myself, cutting out toxicity in my life and moving on to spending time with people who don’t wrong me. Yes, I understand people make mistakes but I am talking about the person in your life who hurts you over and over again, not the boyfriend who forgot to call or the friend who cancelled your dinner plans one time.
Do I think forgiveness can be earned? Sure. Is it rare that it is deserved? Yeah. I’ll expand upon the personal example I gave up top. My child’s father and I created my daughter together. She was planned. After I broke up with him due to the abusive nature of our relationship, he moved back to Virginia. Which was fine. What is not fine is that he has met her two times and contributed only $500 to her entire life. Let me put this into perspective. My child is 4 1/2. Her daycare is $1,100 a month and that is just the daycare expense. I pay for food, housing, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, clothes, shoes, toys, EVERYTHING. For all intensive purposes, he doesn’t know her. She definitely doesn’t remember or know him. He owes me upwards of $20,000. Should I forgive him?
I would forgive him if he made sincere change in his life. If he proved himself. If he paid me back. If he cared for himself and his child. Then, that is when forgiveness can be sincere. Do I think this will ever happen? No. If the person continues their behaviors, they don’t deserve forgiveness.
In conclusion, forgiveness is earned when behavior is changed and changed for good.
Want to read more about that relationship?
Check out my post about love and abuse here.
Check out the story of my daughters birth here