“Actions are the words which pen the story of a contrite heart”
There are few subjects as important as that of forgiveness yet often the solutions provided are vague, not very helpful, or more like catchy slogans. In last week’s article, (click here to read it), the merits of forgiving one’s abuser were explored. Although every circumstance is different, victims must consider their own growth, healing, and mental effectiveness before putting themselves in a situation that may reverse any progress.
But what happens when an abuser from the past asks for our forgiveness? Are we then obligated to grant that request or are there cases which ought to remain unforgiven ad infinitum?
When I cross this bridge with my clients, the first thing they are reminded of always is to keep their own growth and healing as a priority throughout this process. It is a good thing when people see the error of their ways and want to apologize, repent, or atone for their wrongdoings but it’s not always possible to know if they are being sincere.
How can we then be certain this person is telling the truth and deserves our forgiveness? What if this individual had a prior reputation of being a swindler, fraud, or cheat, will this time really be is different? Also, is it absolutely necessary that we forgive that person in order for them to continue on their journey of healing?
Unfortunately, there is no surefire way of knowing if they are being honest. But by remaining vigilant about our own situation, it will help us not to be stuck in a similar predicament again. Your understanding and generosity is not a signal that all is forgotten or retribution for their acts is completed in full. If you choose to forgive that person, it should merely be a sign that you are acknowledging their efforts.
It may be that you need more time for careful consideration. Perhaps you’ve concluded that a particular abuser will never deserve your forgiveness because of the horrible deeds you endured. With so many unique scenarios, it’s impossible for one solution to work in all cases.
For anyone trying to heal from the past, the worst thought possible is that someone else controls this ability for you and it is out of your hands. While their actions may have made the recovery seemingly impossible, we should never accept that someone else is the reason we cannot succeed in this journey.
And that holds true even if it is the abuser who is seeking a change of heart. He can still move forward without your forgiveness; just like you don’t need to be forgiven by your abusers to begin and thrive throughout yours. Ultimately, the only reconciliation we truly need is our own forgiveness. Fortunately, this is the most powerful kind of all.
Thanks to Ryan Stone for the wonderful picture and you can learn more by clicking here. I look forward to your comments.