Forgiveness Places the Burden of Change on the Victim When It Is the Offender Who Should Change
This issue is a confusion of what forgiveness is and what it accomplishes. Forgiveness is not a moral virtue centered on justice. Justice solves problems. Forgiveness deals with the sometimes difficult aftermath of injustices. Forgiveness addresses the consequences of injustice. By so doing, this does not make forgiveness a usurper of a just response. Forgiveness as a response to injustice and the seeking of a better justice can and should exist side-by-side.
Categories: Our Forgiveness Blog, What Forgiveness is
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I have heard this criticism of forgiveness. It is as if the criticizer thinks that we all think this: If only the forgiver can alter his perception somehow all will be well. This makes no sense to me. Forgiveness does nothing to right the wrong and people need to hear that. Forgiveness is powerful in righting the emotional harm done by the wrong.
Thank you for this. Those of us who have been deeply hurt by others too often hear the message, “But just change your attitude.” It is as if when we are feeling rotten inside then it is our fault and all we have to do is get over it. You are saying that it is not true. I needed to hear that today.
Forgiveness is given a bad reputation when people insist that forgiveness is somehow a path to righting a wrong. Forgiveness never demands that a person change and forgiveness is never expected to then right a wrong once a person forgives. Keeping these points squarely in mind helps us to honor forgiveness rather than to falsely condemn it.
It seems so easy to misunderstand forgiveness. It is a delicate concept. Your rational thought on this vital concept is invaluable. Many people can be enlightened by the light of this website.
I just wonder what people are thinking when they accuse forgiveness this way. Maybe they have a lot of anger in their heart and they are just striking out at something precious and good when they go after forgiveness.
I understand that forgiveness has to come from me towards the person who has ‘wronged’ me. But, please help me understand how to move past the hurt to forgiveness when the person won’t acknowledge the hurt to begin with. There is no recognition of wrong doing on their part even though all those around us recognize it. How can I have a response of forgiveness and still seek better justice?
When I finally realized that I found no JOY or RELIEF in being the angry victim/judge sitting on my throne of hurt and contempt, I made the decision to climb off that throne and find a better chair to sit in.
I cannot carry the burden of anger, contempt, vengeance, ad nauseum. So I gave that heavy burden to God. He knows how to figure that stuff out. I don’t have to figure it out. He figured it out on the Cross.
Now I sit in the chair of GRACE. I know “He will make all things work out together for good…”
Even the ugly painful stuff. I can look up to that. I can find JOY and RELIEF knowing God is big enough to fix everything is His own time, in His own way. He does not need me to orchestrate that project.
I have seen Him heal my pain. That’s enough for me. Now I always have a smile on my face.
Hello, Melissa. Some people will not admit wrong….and that is another forgivable offense. We recommend that you forgive the person not only for the original injustice but also for willful ignorance (an expression that Thomas Aquinas used). Once your anger is reduced, you can then be gentle and persistent in asking for justice.
Thank you, Pamela, for the powerful post. You are showing the world the power of forgiveness to literally transform you. How encouraging.