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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.

8 comments:

Larry Clemson said...

Thank you for sharing Roger. I am always reminded of Corrie Ten Boom when she reaches out to forgive one of her Nazi abusers from the prison camp after the war. She made the step forward & God filled in the part she couldn't. Her story has been an encouragement to me.

Zale Dowlen said...

I have found that some sort of "inner healing prayer" is helpful. Those are often Sozo, HeartSync, Transformation Prayer and the like.

Mark Cooper said...

In my case, forgiveness seems to be a journey. I know I have forgiven, I know I still have to chose that forgiveness, and I know that I will forgive.

Anger - at times it seems to be valuable. I've reached the point where I'm not as angry at the people who abused, as I am at the damage I experienced, the wrong choices I later made based on that abuse, and on the evil one who was bent on destroying not only me, but my abusers.When I experience at that, and not so much as the individuals, I find it freeing to admit to my support people. They can then encourage me to keep that anger in prospective as I move through it.

A counselor once said this about emotions, such as anger, anxiety. When we experience those emotions, fight or flight chemicals are released in us. And it takes times for those to get flushed from our system. Remembering this helps me keep in mind that after a time of anger, I may not feel completely "right" for a while, as my brain "recovers" physiologically.

As you say Roger, these are just my thoughts.

I appreciate all that you write and share through this blog, about your journey.

Preston Hill said...

I have a thought. It has been very liberating for me. It is a quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"It is only when God's wrath and vengeance are hanging as grim realities over the heads of one's enemies that something of what it means to love and forgive them can touch our hearts."

I find that highly encouraging. It means that my anger is not a hindrance to forgiveness: it's actually a necessary step in the forgiveness process. My anger is part of the forgiveness. Here's one way to say it: if I don't feel the offense, then what would I be forgiving? I need to reckon a debt so that it can even be possible to waive the penalty that my perpetrator deserves.

Also, when forgiveness comes, it is less about being kind to the perpetrator as it is being kind to yourself. Forgiveness frees us from continued bondage to our perpetrator. It is a way of saying, "I release you and I refuse to live my life imprisoned to the bitterness that your sin has inflicted on my heart." It is a way of breaking soul ties with the perpetrator. In that way, I think forgiveness is the greatest rebellion we can enact against our abuse. It raises us above our perpetrators and dignifies us with supreme agency.

Just my thoughts.

Cecil Murphey said...

wonderful feedback.
Preston, I was especially touched by your comment. Anger IS part of the process. I sometimes tell people, "Don't forgive! Don't forgive until you've felt the pain and anger and are ready to let go of it."
All of your responses are helpful to us in the healing process. THANK YOU.
Cec

Roger Mann said...

"Here's one way to say it: if I don't feel the offense, then what would I be forgiving?"

That strikes a chord with me, Preston. For many years I refused or was unable to recognize that an offense had occurred. Perhaps because of that it was difficult for me to articulate the anger and walk through to forgiveness. I did love my father. I was taught to honor my parents. It made it VERY difficult for me to be angry or admit why I was angry.

I think if it had been some stranger who did this to me it might have been easier to be angry. Incest complicates the normal feelings of violation. I probably need to talk to someone who knows what they're doing to help me sort all of this out still. Every time I think I have a grip on it, some issue raises it's head and I'm confused and upset again.

Just for FYI, coming home from the store the other day the radio channel I listened to was again talking about forgiveness. I wonder, is it me I'm needing to forgive or him or both?

Just my thoughts

Kirk Daniel said...

Very nice post, Roger and Cec! Oh, this question of forgiveness. How it haunts the survivor as much as the crimes committed against us or the memories and flashbacks we'd rather forget about.

I never thought I had anything to forgive. For decades I felt like I was complicit in the whole thing. Imagine my shock when at around 42 it finally occurred to me that I was a victim, not an accomplice! That no minor can ever truly consent to sexual acts with adults was news to me. And very liberating.

But them came all of the horrible emotions I had never felt about the abuse. And one of those was anger. So, now I'm walking the forgiveness road along with you.

Three of my abusers are dead. I can't tell them I forgive them. But, as much as I understand it, forgiveness is not always a one and done thing. Christ said to forgive one who trespasses against you 70 times 7. And, in a way, even though the abuse is over, the memories are like being abused all over again.

"He that is murdered ceases to feel pain;
He that is abused feels pain for the rest of his life."

If this aphorism from Cec is true (and I believe that it is), there is an element to forgiveness that will be ongoing for us. I'm working though my own pain by blogging like you and Cec.

www.theseashes.wordpress.com

Cecil Murphey said...

So glad for the many comments. Forgiving is a big, big issue we have to face. And we all go about it differently. I appreciate your insights.

Kirk asked if the aphorism was original. No, at least not fully. Years ago I read the comment along that sane line, but I didn't like the way it was said. I rewrote it to fit my writing style. [Sorry, I don't remember the original source.)