What Forgiveness Is…and Is Not


In our last post, we shared about the importance of focusing on the blessings and the difficulties of being a Missionary Kid or Preachers’ Kid.  The book, I Have to Be Perfect (and Other Parsonage Heresies) by Timothy L. Sanford, was written with MKs and PKs in mind, and the following is another extract from Sanford’s writings.  I believe his words on forgiveness will prove constructive for any of us, regardless of where we grew up:

The Christians’ answer to every human dilemma is the heal-it-all, fix-it-all, do-it-all spiritual thing called forgiveness.  It was not until I took to a serious study of the subject, that I realized how little I knew, and was not taught, about the actual dynamic of forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not an event where you, the offended, utter pious words that somehow release the accused, and yourself as well.

Forgiveness is not denying the wrong ever occurred.

Forgiveness is not forgetting that the events of your past ever took place.

Forgiveness is not a spiritual way of saying that the wrong done to you is all right and of no consequence.

Forgiveness is not self-martyrdom.  It’s not a self-righteous attempt to look good while licking your wounds.

Forgiveness is not cheap, quick or easy.

Forgiveness is not automatically trusting or even liking the person who hurt you.

These are all the things that forgiveness is not.  What is it then?

Forgiveness is a process, not an event.  It takes time for “process” to process.  Healing and forgiveness both take time.

The greater the wrong, the greater and deeper the pain.

The deeper the pain, the greater the damage or injury.

The greater the damage, the longer it takes to heal.

The longer it takes to heal, the longer it takes to fully forgive.

No big physics formula here, just common sense.

True forgiveness brings true freedom.  It may take you days, weeks or even years to get from beginning to end.  So be it.  Be careful not to compare another person’s progress to your own.  Each case is different and unique.  While the progression is similar, the pace is not.



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