Originally posted on March 10, 2010 on one of my other blogs.
For various reasons, I have been thinking about forgiveness. I am coming to the belief that forgiveness is a process.
In a perfect world, I believe would be possible for us to say “I forgive you,” and we would be able to forget the whole thing ever happened. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect word.
Granted, there are times when we forgive and the “sin” is so small we do actually seem to forget it. I suppose the reason being is the sin didn’t affect us much emotionally, physically, mentally, or spiritually. The process is so short, we don’t even recognize that there was a process.
However, in most cases we are hurt in one or more of these five areas in a significant way, and we can’t just simply forget the pain and injury the sin has caused. Because we have been hurt, it would seem natural that we would need to go through a process of healing, which we all know takes time.
While pondering the meaning of forgiveness, I discovered to forgive, really doesn’t mean to forget. It means to let go of the desire to punish a person for their sin or offense. So to me the first step in forgiveness would be the desire not to punish the sinner.
But, something seems to be lacking in this first step. Wouldn’t the sinner also have to be sorry for the pain and hurt they caused and desired to be forgiven? For forgiveness can’t truly occur if the sinner doesn’t care what pain his/her actions have caused or actually takes pleasure in his/her sins. Just as forgiveness cannot occur if the victim has no desire but to get even or punish.
So if forgiveness is a process, what would be the next step? Perhaps, both parties recognizing that the sin has damaged the relationship; it is not longer the same as it was before the sin. For this reason, trust may have to be re-earned and lines of communications need to restored… and that this is a consequence of the sin and not a punishment.
Finally, the would most likely be a realization that to heal it is going to take time. And, despite our best efforts, there may be scars left by the sin; residual reminders of the damage caused by the sin. Or in other words, the sin is not forgotten. However, if there is true forgiveness the desire punish is gone.
Does this work in a real life situation? I decided to take Tiger Woods and his wife Elin’s current situation after his affair. Tiger has to be truly sorry for his affairs and honestly recognize the damage his actions have cause in his marriage. He also must his desire to be forgiven. Elin, on her part, has to find that love she may have for Tiger and desire not to punish him for the affairs in order to forgiveness to even begin. Then both must recognize that Tiger is going to have to re-earn his wife’s trust and that the physical, emotional, spiritual, and emotional wounds run deep. There is going to take time to work through those issues. Even if Elin and Tiger can work through Tiger’s affairs, there will always be that scar left over. Perhaps my theory works…
Some of you will say well this is a Christian blog and what about God’s forgiveness. Doesn’t God forget our sins the moment we are sorry? I think God does forget our sins. But we as human beings still have to go through the process.
While God is ready to not punish us for our sins because of God’s incredible love for us, we still need to recognize the damage our sin created and be sorry for that damage. We also have to be honest that we have altered the relationship with God because of our sin, and that we will need to change to restore that relationship. Usually, it is allowing ourselves to believe God truly loves us enough to forget our sin no matter how large it is. Again, it looks like a process…
1 thought on “Forgiveness is a Process?”
One analogy I heard regarding forgiveness that really made a lot of sense to me was this:
When someone harms you in some way. Add everything up that they owe you for this harm and take that total to God and tell God that “so and so” owes me this – say the amount – but I am offering this up and will not collect it.
This doesn’t mean you need to be friends with this person or even associate with them, especially if you fear they will do this again, but you vow to not collect the debt they owe you.