Tagged: “forgiveness”

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.

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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.

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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.

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As a follow-up, do I have to engage in what you call “deep forgiving” to say that I actually forgive?

Actually, no, you do not have to engage in what I called “deep forgiving” (in my answer to your most recent question) for you to be forgiving.  We can forgive to lesser and greater degrees.  If you wish the other well, but you still have anger and are not ready to give a gift of some kind to the other person, you still are forgiving.  There is room to keep growing in the moral virtue of forgiveness and so more practice may prove to be worthwhile for you.

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If I forgive but do not reconcile, would you say that I truly have forgiven?

Reconciliation is not a necessary condition to forgive.  Yet, if you do not reconcile, whether you have truly forgiven includes such issues as these: Do you wish the other person well?  Do you see the worth and human dignity of the person?  Do you have a softened heart toward the person?  Are you willing to offer an unconditional gift of some kind to the other (doing so as an end in and of itself rather than for a reward)?  All of these issues are part of deep forgiving.

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