Lecture 8 - Forgiveness: Question and Answer
Lecture 8: Questions and Answers
Questions and answers about what forgiveness looks like in specific situations.
I. What is Forgiveness?
Q: If I’m willing to acknowledge my behavior and take responsibility for that; I see the pain that it has caused to this other person. What am I asking for when I say, please forgive me?
A: I think what you are asking is for the person to cut the pain away and release you from it as contrasted to harboring it. Whatever I have done, then in our relationship, we can continue on with that relationship without that being before us. I used the trust word earlier but that doesn’t mean all the trust has come back, but I’m aiming in that direction. Within a marriage context: I am for you and I am for us and we can move forward.
II. How Do I Know God Has Forgiven Me?
Q: Within the context of asking forgiveness from God; I am experiencing the consequences and rightfully so, but how do I know that God has forgiven me?
A: I think you need to go to the Bible. The other side of that is how I accept that and my emotions aren’t going to be there. They may be there but not likely. So, I’m forgiven. Do I feel forgiven? What I did was pretty bad. On one hand, we stay with the truth that is there. Does the emotion catch up; yes, I think it does. Anyone who is asking this kind of question has had the experience where you say what you say to God, asking forgiven and feel forgiven and you feel a relief come over you. But I’m not sure this happens all the time. I don’t mean the person isn’t forgiven, but do the emotions catch us? We have those emotions because that is how God made us. That is part of the picture.
III. How Do You Proceed When Someone Places Conditions on Their Forgiveness?
Q: If there is a person you want to ask forgiveness from but the person doesn’t accept that. He says that I need to do several things before they accept my forgiveness; so what do I do?
A: Part of the picture; is about restitution. I think when it starts to go there, I would probably see if we could get somebody else to help us with it; to help, you get a third party to see what it is. There are motives and all kinds of other pieces associated with this. And when the two of you are in the middle of it, it can be very difficult to get a clear picture.
Q: If the person refuses to forgive you; you do what you do and then say that you have done all I can do and I need to move on. Is that a way of handling it?
A: Yes, I think you are correct because in the front of the biblical side; it is not about having other people in charge of us. It also may be useful to have somebody else sort of briefly look at that. It is about not being bound and tied by that. People make choices for lots of different reasons and at the same time life moves forward. If a person makes that kind of choice not to forgive; we can still live with an attitude of conciliation. We don’t necessarily have to slam the door. We have done what we could do and if the opportunity comes, I’m open up to revisiting it, but I’m not going to continue throwing myself against a wall.
IV. What is the Difference Between Setting a Boundary and Unforgiveness?
Q: So the difference between forgiveness and boundaries are emotions? It is the idea of doing away with the pain. The idea of boundaries is good because it is clear but it is when the pain gets in the way and we move to an emotional response. The cutting away of pain now becomes the definition of forgiveness? The pain doesn’t determine the future.
A: When there is no repentance for the behavior, then I think it is appropriate to set a boundary to stop from being re-violated. That doesn’t mean a person doesn’t have to be a hundred percent cut off. But it is about what level of relationship I can be involved with. And I think forgiveness includes no longer having our life and our direction in life being tied to those events. So, emotions are a part of it but it is not all about emotions. In terms of deciding directions and it is also about giving up the idea of setting the balance right.
A: I haven’t spoken a lot about justice and I know that I haven’t. The justice piece is part of the picture; the challenge with this is to know how much is enough. In the community that I live in with the stories in the media where various kinds of things are going on; there are hard things that are happening and going on. There are life threatening or life taking things; lifelong injuries whatever they are. There are really hard things that we live within our community. So, what is the right justice for? How much of this equals that and then your fine and in some of these scenarios, there isn’t the right kind of justice. It’s not enough. Why? Because we have lost what we have lost and nothing replaces it. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be justice or consequences or anything like that. There was an article within the community I live in. It was in our community newspaper and I don’t know if I have all the facts, but the story goes something like this: A person was walking alongside of the road and they were hit by a car. The driver would have known that they had hit a person. The driver hit the person and just kept going. The person that was hit was lying in the dig and was found later. The person lived but they didn’t recover; they weren’t able to walk and so it was life changing. What is recorded in the paper was the person who was injured with their life changed said that they had forgiven the person who hit them. And then they could go on with their life. I don’t know what the justice system did, but the person was caught and put through the justice system. But what is the justice system ever going to do to get that person back to where they were? So, it is never enough. On one hand, there needs to be justice but the justice doesn’t move in the area of the forgiveness side. I certain support the justice side of things, but what is enough? I don’t know what you have in your community but the community I live in has a victim offender kind of program where they get people together who are appropriate for that. They put someone who has committed a crime with a lot of help alongside that person and the person who has been offended. And they work through some of that. This is for the person who can move on in life. So forgiveness needs to be part of this.
Q: You never can get back what you have lost ever again and so even if there was justice, it cannot recover what was lost.