Archive for October, 2021
My identity is kind of damaged since I left an abusive relationship. I forgave, but because I did not reconcile, I think of myself as a failure. I need your help on this.
I recommend that you make this important distinction: Did you fail in the relationship or did the one who abused you cause that failure? For instance, if the other stopped the abuse and you were able to trust, would you have left the relationship? I think the answer is no, you would not have left the relationship. My point is this: You tried, but the other did not make it possible for you to continue with the relationship. You did not fail and I urge you to say this to yourself so that you can stand in the truth that you did what you could.
You just talked about forgiving and reconciling being more complete than forgiving alone. Yet, it seems to me that there are three issues that need to work together for a more complete package: forgiving, the offender seeking forgiveness, and then genuine reconciliation. What do you think?
Yes, I agree that forgiving, seeking forgiveness, and reconciliation are ideal, if this can occur with mutual trust. We have been talking about these three working together for about 3 decades and we call this “the forgiveness triangle.”
You tend to de-couple forgiving and reconciling, but to me both forgiving and reconciling are more of a complete package than one or the other. What do you think?
Yes, if a person can forgive and then reconcile with the other, this is more complete in terms of the relationship than forgiving alone. Yet sometimes we have no choice but to only forgive because the other refuses to change hurtful behavior. So, being able to forgive and to reconcile constitute a more ideal situation, but forgiving by itself still is very important because this forgiving can set you free from resentment, which could last for the rest of your life.
If I choose not to forgive, do you think my happiness in the future might be ok if my situation changes for the better?
While the changed situation can lead to more happiness (if the new situation gives you satisfaction or even joy), your degree of happiness might be compromised by resentment in the heart if you were treated deeply unjustly and have not reduced that resentment. Forgiving can reduce or even eliminate that resentment, opening you to increased happiness in the future. So, an improved situation and forgiving others for past injustices both can contribute to your happiness.
What if, when I forgive, I am not as happy as I was before the person treated me unfairly. Then might it be the case that I have not actually forgiven?
When we are treated unfairly by others we sometimes lose something, such as a relationship or we leave our job. This can lead to unhappiness in the short-term. This unhappiness does not mean that you are unforgiving. It means that you have a difficult situation to confront. The unhappiness in this case is not because of unforgiveness. Your forgiveness, even if it is to a small degree right now, may help you achieve happiness in the future as you adjust to the new situation.