Tagged: “Misconceptions”

What cautions do you have for me before I reconcile with a former partner who was not particularly trustworthy?

Here are three cautions for you:

  1. If you reconcile too quickly without the other showing any remorse, repentance, or recompense, then this could be a false reconciliation in which you may be hurt again in the same way.
  2. Please do not think of forgiving and reconciling as the same. You can forgive from the heart, but then not reconcile if the other continues to be a danger to you. If you equate the two, then as you forgive, you may feel a false obligation to reconcile.
  3. If you are still angry and not forgiving, then, without realizing it, you might use reconciliation as a weapon, in which you come together in a superficial way and then you keep reminding the other of how bad he/she has been and how good you have been.  This is why you need forgiveness to occur before a deep reconciliation occurs.
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Do you have some advice for me about helping a person to consider forgiveness, when this person is adamantly against forgiving?

A key issue is this:  Has this person misunderstood what forgiveness is, equating it with: a) weakness, or b) excusing unjust behavior, or c) being open again to abuse, or d) automatically reconciling, or e) abandoning the quest for justice?  Any of these misconceptions can make a person hesitant to forgive.  Yet, the person is rejecting, not forgiveness itself, but a false form of it.  Your pointing out how forgiveness is none of those five issues above may make the person more receptive to the idea of forgiving.  It ultimately is that person’s choice to forgive or not once forgiveness is more deeply understood.

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How can I forgive a God I no longer believe in?  I have a lot of anger toward this non-existent deity.

It seems to me that you do, in fact, believe in God and this is hidden from you right now.  Why do I say this?  You cannot have anger toward a person who does not exist.  How can a person who does not exist be unfair to you and therefore hurt you?  It is similar with God.  How can you have “a lot of anger” for a deity when you claim the deity does not exist?  Your emotions suggest to me that you do see God as real.  If this is true, then you need to ask questions such as this: Is God perfect, all holy?  If so, then God cannot be unjust to you.  Perhaps it is people who have hurt you and you are passing this now to God (“God should have prevented this,” as one example).  If this is your mode of thinking, then I recommend a deeper dive into theology so that you can address the issue of why God allows suffering in this world; why God allows others to be unfair to you.  In other words, it may be the rigors of this world and hurtful people at whom you are angry.

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Forgiveness seems to be a problem for people who have been traumatized.  I say this because upon forgiving, the person may mistakenly assume that the relationship needs to be restored.  Do you agree?

I do not agree primarily because to forgive is very different from reconciling with an abusive person.  Reconciliation is not a moral virtue.  Instead, it is a negotiation strategy of two or more people coming together again in mutual trust.  You can forgive (being good, even from a distance, to those who are not good to you) and still not reconcile.  As you say, when a person “mistakenly assumes” that the relationship needs to be restored, this is an error that needs to be corrected for the protection of the abused person.

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Why do you think that people just assume that you can be part of their life again once you forgive them?  To be honest, this kind of assumption annoys me.

I think people assume that they can be part of your life again, once you forgive them, because they are equating forgiving with reconciling.  As you probably know, one can forgive and not reconcile, especially when the offending other person refuses to change unjust and hurtful behavior.

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