I have been thinking a lot lately about what forgiveness really means. I think many don't really understand what forgiveness really means. We hear the words we need to forgive with very little understanding.
Over emphasis of forgiveness for the offender overshadows the victims. Don’t we have an obligation to victims, many of them voiceless who don’t have the resources to stand against abusers? Is this not the way the world gets safer? How much compassion and respect for life do we really have through this avoidance? It’s time to reframe forgiveness. To understand that the compassionate thing to do is not to let wrong-doers off the hook
Forgiveness is not going to be the same for everyone.Here are 2 different scenarios,in my life towards forgiveness.
My dad was very abusive towards me. Daily beatings, he would beat me many times until I would pass out. I was able to forgive him while I was still in my 20's. When I no longer lived at home,the beatings stopped.He would come to visit me a lot and talk about his upbringing and it was very violent. He treated me the same way his dad treated him and because of my understanding of that and realizing he couldn't give me something that he didn't have to give. He did try to make it up to me. But, he had a lot of healing to do himself and he had to learn to forgive himself and love himself first. But at least he tried. He's dead now.He lost his life due to a work related accident. Im glad he shared his story with me it helped me eventually heal from the abuse I endured by his hands. But it did affect my life in a very negative way for a very long time.
I loved my dad. Even though I forgave him,I still hate the things he did to me. I will never look upon those memories all fluffy and with love. What he did to me was wrong,period.
I just recently learned how to forgive my mom,and I am now 50 yrs old. She has not ever admitted to doing anything wrong. She wasn't so much physically abusive as she was emotionally and mentally abusive. She was a very good manipulator and liar. She was good at keeping my focus on my dad as being the bad guy and she was the poor victim in all of it. I received many beatings from my dad because of her lying and manipulation. I have a sister and 2 brothers who don't like me because of her lies. My mom is not the type of person who will take blame for anything,it is everyone's else fault.she will cover her tracks of what an awful mother she is. She talked very negatively and told many lies about me to family, friends and my oldest son.
I also know my mom was afraid of me, not afraid that I would do anything physical because I wouldn't. Afraid in the sense I would call her out on her lies and I didn't even do that in a mean way. I just wanted to know why she would lie about me. She didn't like I saw right through her manipulation games.
Recently I forgave her, I don't feel nothing towards her only sad for her and that is it.
In each of these instances I eventually forgave and the forgiveness did not come before my healing. But the scars are still there and I am relearning a lot of things I was taught that actually where false and that is a journey in itself. I am Discovering who I really am and not the version of who they said I was.
I had to walk away from my family five plus years ago. Because while I am trying to move forward,my mom's sister tried to put me back into that box because that made them feel more comfortable. The more I climbed out of their box and was becoming my own person the more they tried to manipulate me and lie to others. Because I know if I climbed out of the box and see things for what they really were,the truth just might be exposed and they were too comfortable in their darkness. I was the scapegoat for the family. No one every had to take responsibility for their actions,they just blamed it on me. Do I care anymore if they are still using me as a scapegoat or lying about me? Absolutely not.
So far on my road to forgiveness this what I have learned about forgiveness;
There is no quick fix to forgiveness. It is a process and some wounds heal faster than others.
Before I can forgive,I have to first learn to love myself and forgive myself for the past. Makes no sense to forgive others first. Like I have heard so many times, how can you love others if you don't love yourself? So that is why my healing comes above all others.
The need to remove toxic people so I can sort out the truth vs their lies of me.
Because they will try to keep me down at their level. Because that is where they feel comfortable.
Even after I am ready to forgive,the wounds can still be there and they need to be healed.
So, when you truly want to heal from the past,I believe you need to take forgiveness off the table and focus on your healing first.
I am going to be writing another article on this subject and write about where I am at in my forgiveness process with a few others.
I leave you with these powerful quotes by Martin Luther King, Jr. who thoroughly understood the detriment of staying quiet and inactive, and encouraged others to take a stand against what they thought was wrong, so as to save others from needless suffering at the hands of the ignorant and cruel and unconscious, while necessarily being true to themselves.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes:
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
“I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”
“The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict.”