WEIRD FORGIVENESS (Second Part)
In Part One we opened the door of weird ideas about forgiveness with the problems with criminal justice and corruption of historical justice. Let’s explore a few more thoughts…
Apologies that aren’t.
“Sorry you feel that way” is neither an admission of guilt nor an apology. It is an attempt to place the “blame” on the one who was offended or hurt. “If you didn’t feel that way what I did would not have hurt you…” Really!?!
“I was misunderstood” is never an appropriate response when someone has been offended. (Of course, if you really were misquoted you should say so.) This is another attempt to place the blame on the person who was offended.
“I’m sorry that happened to you.” If YOU offended someone, YOU should take responsibility. This phrase does not come up to the level of “personal responsibility.”
“I regret that mistakes were made…” Thank you, Captain Obvious! Now apologize.
“My mother told me to apologize to you.” That’s not an apology, that’s reporting a conversation.
“Give me a break! I apologize, OK!!!” Sure, you are mad because I won’t let you off the hook, but you certainly are not apologetic. You don’t mean it.
Let’s be clear about this. An apology is a heartfelt statement recognizing that you did or said something wrong, and a request for forgiveness from the one injured. It is simple. It does not require fancy verbiage. If you are an ADULT you can do it. It is the mature thing to do. To quote Carolyn Hax (“Dear Carolyn”) who has a newspaper advice column: “True remorse is in the details: ‘Your father was abusive to you. I witnessed it and failed to protect you. I am sorry I let you down in such a profound way.’”
There are three things I should include here:
1.) Never apologize in writing, on a video, or on any public platform. It is personal, so make it personal. Putting this in the public eye cheapens it because it is hard to make it sound like you are not taking the higher moral ground than the one injured.
2.) The person apologizing should never go into it expecting forgiveness. The goal is take responsibility and to try to mend YOUR SIDE of the fence.
3.) Always apologize if you did the deed and NEVER for something you did not do. An apology means you accept blame and the consequences. As bad as you may feel about something, and as much as you want to give peace to the victim…your false apology will not help. I had a friend who used to say “I’m sorry” when I was harmed by someone else. It infuriated me. “Why are YOU apologizing?”, I would ask, “You didn’t do it!” “Well,” she would say, “I feel bad for you.” I told her to stop. Don’t take responsibility for what someone else did.
The victim pays twice. The first time when they are abused. The second time when they grant forgiveness. This is another thing which is ignored by those who write and speak on this subject. The victim has to give up so very much to extend grace to the offender. They must abandon the thought of receiving justice. That is almost never possible anyway. Furthermore, the amount of sacrifice of time and emotion is almost always greater than any benefit forgiveness grants the recipient. This is why forgiveness should NOT be done casually. This is serious business which may take years (and sometimes should).
On the last day of Second Grade, Eugene (his actual name) borrowed a nickel and promised to pay it back. He wanted an ice cream. He got his ice cream partly with my nickel. On the first day of Third Grade I asked for the return of my nickel and learned a lesson. “What nickel?,” Eugene said. He admitted no guilt and no debt. It took me a very long time to see the truth beyond the truth. Some people do not keep track of or even care about their debts. I learned to be much more wary with my trust. That lesson only cost me 5 cents and my innocence. Other hard lessons have cost me far more.
Cassie Shortsleeve in “Prevention” December 13, 2019 said, “Forgiving someone is by no means a necessity.” I agree.
Some have a weird misunderstanding about granting forgiveness. They teach that forgiveness MUST BE GIVEN in every case, no exceptions. Those teachers and promoters of “free” forgiveness have missed something incredibly obvious: Even God, with all of His Virtues, and for all His work to provide forgiveness through the DEATH of His Son, does not Himself offer forgiveness without a cost imposed upon the ones who receive it. The receivers of God’s grace must admit they did wrong, repent, and desire a changed relationship with God. In other words, the ones seeking His forgiveness must ASK for it with sincerity and humility. That requires not just ASKING, but also a sincere change of the offenders’ attitudes (otherwise it is a “no deal,” since God knows what is in the mind and heart).
So … Does that mean that the person who has offended or harmed me MUST ASK for my forgiveness? In many cases, no. But some times, absolutely yes!!! The giver of grace can choose the timing and circumstances in which the forgiveness will be granted. However, we should be informed by how God does it and how He talks about it. (The recipient does not get to choose how or when a gift is given.) Clearly, recipients of our grace do not DESERVE forgiveness, that is the nature of grace (it is never deserved).
That means there may be some whom I will forgive “for free,” some who beg my forgiveness, and others which may never receive my gift. Hopefully none of the latter. There have been instances where granting forgiveness has been fairly automatic, but other times it demanded great thoughtfulness. Hate to say it, but I have known people so badly damaged by abuse that they could never forgive the abuser, and I would be a fool to insist they must. That abuser may be someone only God COULD forgive…or which God will repay with eternal damnation. (Even God does not forgive everyone.)
Copyright 2023 Donald Whelpley
MORE OF DON’S GREAT GUEST POSTS:
~ Weird Forgiveness I ~ Classified Documents ~ Future You Needs A Friend ~ Feeling Understood ~
~ Starting The New Year Right ~ Awe! Aah! Ooh! ~ Christmas As A Poor (Rich) Child ~ Bigger Problems ~
~ Blessing ~ Climate Change – 2 ~ Medical Science Too Far? ~ Gravity and Light ~ Travel Fun ~
~ Fascinating People: Gloria Hartman Doughty ~ Sadly Magic Words ~ Mulberries ~ Climate Change? ~
~ SPURIOUS UBIQUITOUS NOISE ~ TEW ~ Credit Card Debt ~ Insect Oddities ~ DATA ~ Cities Got Name? ~
~ The Bible Does Not Say That! ~ Too Old?? ~ Be My Guest ~ IN-CRE-MEN-TAL-ISM ~ Bad Friends & Broken Tools ~
~ Pools Are For The Birds?? ~ Animals Hindering Your Financial Freedom ~ The Chicken ~ Finding The Exit ~
~ Allegheny Blackberries ~ Romantic Sunset At The Beach ~ Fun Facts About Carpenter Ants ~ Bad Habits ~
~ Doing Faith Wrong ~ Quirky! ~ Ten-Foot Trestle ~ Settling Estates ~ Living In High Horse Country ~ The Dying Generation ~
2 thoughts on “GUEST POST from Don: Weird Forgiveness – Section Two”
Excellent!!! Thanks for such a timely and needed message. Someone steals prescription medication from me when they come inside my home, therefore I prefer to meet that person in public situations. But, the situation has caused major problems with certain family members who believe that all should be forgiven (even though the offender continues to steal). …..Unfortunately medications can not be easily replaced because doctors will not refill pain prescriptions.
Don does a great job, I think, of expressing his thoughts. He was a born writer, IMHO. And an excellent preacher too. Back in the day when I had the opportunity to hear him I was ALWAYS disappointed when the messages would end, they seemed way too short because they were so well-delivered! I still love listening to him tell stories of his experiences and other things, whenever I have the chance! (He is my brother-in-law, in case I’ve never mentioned that…) Anyway, I can see why this post he shared has special meaning to you, how awful :(.