Most of us agree that our lives would be better if we could forgive those that have hurt us. So why don’t we? Below are three of the most common reasons people choose not to forgive.
1. I don’t want to send the message that what happened was okay.
Forgiving someone does not mean you are okay with what happened. Forgiveness has little to do with the hurtful act itself. In most situations, it is a given that what happened was not okay. By forgiving, we are making a conscious decision to let go of any resentment, vengeance, or anger that came from being hurt because we believe we will be better off not having those emotions and thoughts floating around inside us.
2. They don’t deserve to be forgiven.
Too many people refuse to forgive because they believe the person who hurt them needs to suffer more. They confuse justice with healing. Justice is something that should be addressed in the courtroom. It doesn’t work when we apply judicial parameters to our own individual healing. The person who hurt you might not deserve forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean you deserve to live with the resentment and bitterness.
Healing is something that will require forgiveness, regardless of who the offender is or what they did. Although forgiveness benefits both parties, it is more about setting the victim free of the resentment than it is releasing the offender.
3. I can’t forgive them because I can’t trust them.
Forgiving someone that hurt you is not communicating that you all of a sudden trust that person again. You may or may not trust them based on their track record and trustworthiness, but you don’t need to be able to trust them in order to forgive them. Too many people withhold forgiveness because they don’t believe the person who hurt them has changed or will change. This is a trust issue not a forgiveness issue.
Forgiveness allows us to move forward after being hurt instead of staying stuck in the past because of unreleased resentment. Trust is an entirely different subject that should be tied to the other person’s trustworthiness. There will be situations where you will forgive and not trust that person ever again. Setting healthy boundaries and realistic expectations is how you can address an untrustworthy person. Don’t withhold forgiveness in an attempt to protect yourself – you hurt yourself in the process.
~ Josh Emery