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Forgiving Unconditionally (Part 6 of 7)

Forgiving unconditionally is different from forgiving with conditions. True forgiveness is a grace—a gift not deserved.

Forgiveness on our part frees the perpetrator who inflicted the pain. That’s where some falter, unable to let go. I understand that, but by letting them go, we also give up all claims to waiting for them to change or to confess they’ve hurt us.

By the simple act of wiping away their evil deeds from our hearts, we also free ourselves. We no longer feel a gnawing ache when the other person is mentioned. The tension leaves our body. It becomes like an old toothache—we may remember the experience, but we’re free from the agony.

I’ve learned that I need to have experienced undeserved pardon before I can pass it on. For me, as a Christian, that’s at the core of my faith. I didn’t deserve divine forgiveness, but I joyfully accept it.

Only as I understand unconditional forgiveness for myself 
am I able to offer it to someone else.

It's Not Up to Them (Part 5 of 7)

“When he admits what he’s done, then I’ll forgive.”

“I’m willing to forgive him for molesting me, after he admits what he did to me.”

We’ve all heard people say those words. What they can’t seem to accept is that forgiveness isn’t dependent on actions of others.

Of course, it’s easier to forgive when the perpetrator expresses remorse. Then we can feel as if we’ve been paid back in some way.

For many, forgiveness is the understanding that we offer to someone—a gift—but it has strings attached. The if-you-will condition is implied.

By adding conditions, they become the chains that bind us to the person who harmed us. We may set the conditions for granting forgiveness, but the person who harmed us decides whether the conditions are too costly.

If we wait for those who harmed us to repent, 
we may never be healed.

More Results from Forgiving (Part 4 of 7)

As more and more studies document the healing power of forgiveness, they also look at the mentally and physically corrosive effects of not forgetting.

Hanging on to anger and resentment—which makes us live in a state of stress—can damage the heart as well as the soul.

Modern research indicates that failure to forgive may be a risk factor for heart disease, high blood pressure, and a score of other chronic stress-related illnesses.

Medical and psychological studies have also shown that a person holding on to anger and resentment is at increased risks for anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and is more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, ulcers, migraines, backaches, heart attacks, and even cancer.

The reverse is also true. Genuine forgiveness can transform those ailments, thus stress, anxiety, and depression are reduced, as well as the physical disorders.

But then, we’ve known this for millennia, even if we don’t admit it.

For example, Psalm 32 is about someone who refused to receive forgiveness (and I think the other side is also true). “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away, through my groaning all day long” (verse 3).

Health benefits are only the beginning. To forgive is also to release ourselves from whatever trauma and hardship we have experienced and begin to reclaim our lives as our own.

By forgiving, we benefit with improved health.

Self-interest of Forgiving (Part 3 of 7)

Not long ago, I read research about the results of forgiving. In report after report, statistics pointed out that those who forgive had fewer health and mental issues, physical problems, and felt less stress.

If we think of forgiving our perpetrators as doing something for ourselves—to promote our healing—we’re on the right path.

This solidifies the idea that forgiving is a loving act of compassion for me—a benefit for myself.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So why is it difficult for some?

Because I care about myself, 
I release my anger toward my perpetrator.

The Old Forgiveness Road (Again)

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Forgiveness? Seriously? Still?

It seems that lately every time I talk to someone about my dad’s abuse of me, which gratefully isn’t often, this subject comes up. I don’t know if I’m coming across angry, resentful, or what. I believe I’ve forgiven him and my mom, and even my sis for the small role she had. Although, honestly, I have other reasons for not feeling warm and fuzzy with her that have nothing to do with the abuse.

I’ve honestly tried to forgive, forget, and let go of any bad feelings about it all. I know it just hurts me and no one else. There are times, however, when I seem to feel angry for no reason. It could be that I’m a jerk at times due to some genetic propensity for such. I really don’t know.

Anyway, I’d like if next time the subject comes up I didn’t have to go over the old forgiveness road again. I realize it’s an obvious place to go when first dealing with someone who has been abused, and it should be a vital part of the healing process somewhere down the road when one is ready. But after ten or more years, do I still need to visit this again?

I suppose it’s possible that I just don’t understand how the process works and/or maybe I’ve done it wrong and it didn’t take or something, but it sure keeps coming up. I think that may be what prompted the previous post about moving on.

If anyone has tips or positive experiences with this issue, I’d love to hear about it. The whole thing makes my stomach hurt.

Just my thoughts.

Moving On?

(This post comes from Roger Mann.)

Sometimes I think my entire life has revolved around sex. I understand it’s a big part of a guy’s life. Someone once said, “From the time we exit the exit, we spend the rest of our lives trying to get back in.” Much of art and literature—and now the media—is devoted to it in one way or another, especially these days. I get that.

Still, for me it’s been an ongoing theme. Being a sex object as a child was a large part of my confusion over my identity and worth. The teens, normally a tumultuous time for a boy, were even more confusing. When I should have been discovering girls, I was already being discovered by males.

I married thinking that would solve and solidify my ambivalence about the whole thing. It didn’t. I gave up for a while and listened to those telling me to accept who and what I was. But that’s not who I came to realize I was after all.

So, years of therapy later, and many books, counseling sessions, and so forth, I still find my mind haunted by what happened to me so long ago. Today I find myself asking this question. Do I want this issue to continue being the main theme my life seems to revolve around? Or is it time to put it on the back burner to simmer, and try and enjoy what life has led me to in the present?

I’m not giving up on trying to heal, but I’m not going to spend the rest of my life looking back. I have a good life. Yet I think that at times I miss some of the goodness while trying to deal with scars from my past. Although there’s no question I’m scarred, I’m still alive, and I suspect I’m still missing much because of trying to lick my wounds.

Moving on is not denial. It can also be a part of the healing process.

Hurting Back (Part 2 of 7)

As I continue to learn about forgiving, I’m able to say that people who hurt often hurt others. That may not be obvious to us who were molested. Perhaps not every perp was first victimized, but something caused deep pain or need in their lives, and finding temporary sexual satisfaction was their form of self-medication.

Even knowing that, for some of us it’s still hard to forgive. The anguish is too deep. The traumas of our childhood remain stuck in our memories.

Hurting back doesn’t satisfy. We may think it will, but it doesn’t. If I sock you after you struck me, it doesn’t lessen the sting I felt. Nor does it diminish my sadness that you hit me. At best, retaliation gives a momentary respite from pain. The only way to experience healing and peace is to release the pain—that is, to forgive.

Until we can forgive, we’re in a prison, padlocked in our heartache and locked out of the possibility of experiencing healing and freedom. In short, we’re unable to experience peace because we’re still bolted to the past.

Someone wisely said, “Without forgiveness, we remain tethered to the person who harmed us. We’re bound by chains of bitterness and vengeance. Until we can forgive the one who harmed us, we’re unable to grab hold the key that frees us from our prison. Our perpetrators are still inflicting agony and despair. That person is our jailer.”

When we forgive, we take control of our lives and feelings. We become our own liberators.

Above all, we don’t forgive to help our perpetrators. We forgive for ourselves. Forgiveness is the best form of self-interest.

The best way to win over our oppressor is to forgive him 
and not allow him to continue the torment.