I think I have forgiven someone for betraying me. Yet, I actually do not want to have anything to do with this person anymore. Does this mean I have not forgiven?
We need to make a distinction here between forgiving and reconciling. The late Lewis Smedes, in his 1984 book, Forgive and Forget, made the compelling point that we know we have forgiven someone “if we wish the other well.” If you wish the other well, hoping that bad things do not happen to the person, then you have forgiven.
Forgiveness usually leaves us with some residual feelings of anger or sadness about what happened, but these emotions then are not intense and dominating us. In contrast, reconciliation is when two or more people come together again in mutual trust. Given that you were abandoned, your trust in that relationship likely is low and should be low if the other is continuing the hurtful behavior. So, yes, you very well may have forgiven, but you rightly are not ready to reconcile.
How do I forgive my husband, daughter, and future son-in-law for treating me so horribly during this past year planning my daughter’s wedding and they didn’t want any of my suggestions? They just wanted our $45,000 and basically decided now not to have any type of reception, just keep the money for a house and have no celebration with my family or my husband’s family. She’s our only daughter and my husband gave her all this money behind my back without consulting me. She will be married on Saturday in a civil ceremony with a gathering at the in-laws apartment.
I have some questions for you:
1) Would you be willing to commit to doing no harm to your husband, your daughter, and your new son-in-law even in the context of your having the opportunity to somehow hurt them? If you answered, “Yes, I will commit to doing no harm,” then you are on the forgiveness journey. This is a big step in the process;
2) Have you tried to see each of their weaknesses, their confusions, their wounds that may have wounded you? If not, perhaps you need to do some of this cognitive work, to see them in a wider perspective than only their injuries toward you;
3) Do you think that your will is strong enough to do the work outlined in #1 and 2 above? If so, that work could lead to your forgiving if you give this time.
So, what do you think? Have you found your way onto the path of forgiveness? Let me know and I will do all that I can to help you onto the forgiveness path.
As one further resource which may be helpful to you, here is my latest blog at Psychology Today. The theme centers on being betrayed by others: