We’ve talked an awful lot about our book club topic of Forgiveness. But I found myself talking to my team about it and we all were thinking “What happens next?” You know the part AFTER forgiveness.
Do you forgive and forget or do you let the person back in with conditions? Does forgiving always mean reconciling?
You have to give yourself permission to forgive, letting go of the bitterness while remembering very clearly your rights to healthy boundaries.
Forgiveness and a restoration of a relationship are two different things.
Forgiveness is only on your part, whether they respond or not, whether they ask for it or not, whether they even recognize they need it or not. You forgive for your sake. Restoration of a relationship takes far more than forgiveness. It takes repentance. It takes restitution and a rebuilding of trust. And it often takes a much longer time.
We encounter people all the time who are trying to forgive someone who has repeatedly hurt them. They know it’s their duty to forgive but often feel they’re being taken advantage of or manipulated. They also have a disturbing sense that they’re enabling the selfish behaviour of the people who’ve hurt them.
Is it possible to forgive someone without restoring the relationship?
It is important to understand that (unlike forgiveness) the restoration of a broken relationship is a process conditioned on the attitude and actions of the offending person. Those who commit significant and repeated offenses must realize that their responses and actions affect the timing of the process. Those who are genuinely sorry will accept this fact with humility.
In some cases, even if an offender confessed his wrong to the one he hurt, and appealed for forgiveness, the offended person could justifiably say, “I forgive you, but it’s going to take some time for me to regain trust and restore our relationship.”
If you rebuild a house on a cracked foundation, it might be all right for a while; might even feel solid and stable. But when the storms come, the crack will split the house.
1. Forgiving is the past. Forgiveness is not holding something someone has done against her. It is letting it go. It only takes one to offer forgiveness. And just as God has offered forgiveness to everyone, we are expected to do the same
2. Reconciling is the present. It occurs when the other person apologises and accepts forgiveness. It takes two to reconcile.
3. Restoration/Trust is the future. It deals with both what you will risk happening again and what you will open yourself up to. A person must show through his actions that he is trustworthy before you trust him again.
Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to remain friends, and forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to restore a broken relationship.
What are your thoughts on restoring trust? Have you been in the situation where you’ve forgiven but NOT restored your relationship with someone? I’d love to hear all about it and I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Let’s talk about it!
And speaking of forgiveness and restoration…