What does forgiveness mean?

What does forgiveness mean?

I had forgiven.  I was here, still trying in my marriage.  I was extending love.  But In the back of my head though, I was always thinking,

 “When will the next betrayal come?”

  • “What if it happens again?”
  • “I can’t tell him I forgive him because he will think it’s okay to hurt me again.”
  • “He will think I am okay with addiction being in our marriage.”
  • “He will think it’s okay to let up on his recovery. That's what happened before when I told him that I had forgiven him.”                                                         

 But God helped me to realize two things.

  1. I was making assumptions. 
  2. Even if my husband does hurt me again with betrayal, forgiveness is still worth it.

Forgiveness is still necessary because it keeps me from becoming bitter, And bitterness over time becomes bondage. And that’s when I realized:  I DON’T WANT TO BE A SLAVE ANYMORE TO WHAT HE DID TO ME, and I DON’T WANT HIM TO BE A SLAVE ANYMORE TO WHAT HE DID TO ME.  When we stay in that place of bondage, we let the enemy win. 

Forgiveness doesn’t mean I won’t still be looking for and expecting changed behavior.  It doesn’t mean that boundaries will not still be in place. 

I used to think that forgiveness meant forgetting or that it meant what was done to me was okay. Maybe it’s because as a child, when we are taught to extend forgiveness, it comes with an apology, and then we would usually say, “Okay”. Or at least that’s how I remember forgiveness as a child. But what if now, we don’t simply say, “okay” after someone apologizes? What if we simply say, “Thank you for acknowledging what you did hurt me.  I forgive you.”   It does not ignore the fact that we were hurt. It does not erase what happened. It does however set us free from bitterness taking root. 

Does extending forgiveness mean trust is restored? 

NO, IT DOES NOT.

But it does give the relationship a starting point if there is consistently changed behavior and changed actions.  Forgiveness gives you a new lens to view that changed behavior through. You no longer see all actions through the lens of past betrayal but through a lens of new beginnings. 

Does forgiveness mean forgetting?

I DON’T BELIEVE THAT IT DOES.

It does say in the Bible that God remembers our sin no more. But we are not God. I fully believe God can give us the supernatural ability to forget something that someone has done to us.  But I also believe that there are times He allows us to remember so that it can bring Him further glory. Take for instance those who have been betrayed by their husband through infidelity whether it be porn, emotional or physical affairs. And God has redeemed their marriage completely. Wouldn’t God want them to remember how far He has brought them? I think so! I read somewhere that forgiveness is remembering without the sting of the pain. We can remember without using it as leverage in an argument. 

What if we need to forgive someone who has never apologized?

THAT IS A TOUGH PLACE, BUT HERE IS WHAT I FEEL GOD TELLING ME ABOUT THAT.

We are all sinners. We all have sinned against God. Christ Jesus didn’t demand an apology before taking on our sin as His own, and then dying for us. When we forgive someone who has not apologized and may never apologize, we are declaring that we are not their judge. God is, and we trust God to be the good Judge that He is. We are not saying what they did is okay or right or that it didn’t hurt us. We are saying what they did to us was harmful.  But If we blame them, our blame will become bitterness and our bitterness will become bondage. 

Forgiveness to me means giving up my “right” to punish the person who has hurt me and realizing that we all fall short.  We all sin.

JW