5 Misconceptions About Forgiveness by Forgiveness Coach Sandra Cobb
November 17, 2020 – Forgiveness Coach Sandra Cobb
Does it seem like you’re just going through the day-to-day motions of living, but not really fully engaged with life?
Do you feel tired physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually from carrying the weight of unforgiveness?
I’ve been there and want you to know that you are not alone!
In our lifetime, at some point or anything, we have been hurt. Many have experienced traumatic hurt from awful offenses done to us personally. My traumatic hurt came when two young men decided it was time to end the life of my baby sister. We try to go on day-to-day, but we feel stuck. Perhaps it is the result of pain and anger that remains in your heart from the offense. Contrary to your personal belief system, there is an offense that hurt you to the core, and you just can’t imagine ever forgiving the person.
There are various reasons people give for why they refuse to forgive their offender. These are reasons you have probably heard before and, perhaps, maybe even given yourself. For the person that has never struggled with forgiving people, any reason offered for why you won’t forgive someone may seem to be excuses or frivolous. If you or someone you know is struggling to forgive, this blog is for you.
If I may borrow from Shakespeare and add a twist, “Forgive or not to forgive” is the question in front of you today. Daily there are people struggling with the decision to forgive someone. There are major misconceptions about forgiveness that may be clouding your thinking at this time. Now is the perfect time to clear up these misconceptions!
Let’s start with five!
The first misconception often given for why a person doesn’t forgive is:
1. Forgiveness means I approve what they did to me!
The truth is that forgiving someone is NOT a declaration that you approve or justify the wrong done to you. To justify means to make right, and wrong will NEVER be right! People refuse to forgive their offender out of fear that they are sending a message of approval of the offense. You are not letting them off the hook.
A second misconception is that
2. Forgiveness means you act like the offence never happened.
The truth is that true forgiveness doesn’t pretend that no wrong is present; you’re not blind to the wrong that has happened. It doesn’t mean your pain isn’t real. It happened and call the offense what it is! It does mean, however, that you don’t store the offense in your heart and mind and continue to rehearse it over and over again. This does not lead you on the right path.
3. Withholding forgiveness is causing my offender to suffer and be in pain like I am.
The truth and reality are that unforgiveness is causing YOU more pain and suffering. You are stressed which leads to anxiety. You’re probably also experiencing physical ailments such as headaches and high blood pressure. Your offender is not suffering with you as you go through these issues. Forgiveness is your pathway out of your suffering.
The fourth misconception is
4. The offender doesn’t deserve forgiveness.
Here’s the truth, looking at Matthew 6:14,15 (King James Version) we may want to rethink this. Jesus is speaking and He says,
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
If God forgiving us hinges on whether or not we forgive others, rethink this misconception that someone doesn’t deserve forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is available. If we want to receive it, we are expected to give it and forgive others as well. This verse puts everyone on the same level. Ask yourself, “Can I afford to be without God’s forgiveness for even one moment?”
The last and fifth misconception I want to address is:
5. The offender must ask for forgiveness
God shows us the truth that contradicts this misconception in His Word:
“But God commendeth his love toward us (He shows and proves His love for us), in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”- Romans 5:6 (King James version)
We had not apologized yet, we had not repented yet, and we were still estranged from God. But, while (in the midst of our wrong behavior) we were yet sinners Christ died for us.
My baby sister was murdered in 1984. The murderers never admitted to their guilt; during the trial they pled innocent. They never apologized to our family, yet forgiveness was still required of me.
So, examine yourself. Have you been persuaded by either of the above misconceptions and have been withholding forgiveness because of wrong or stinkin thinkin?
What to do next? As a Christian, one of our most powerful tools is prayer. Have a sincere conversation with God and include the following important aspects:
Be truthful with yourself and be truthful with God (I John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”). Share your heart. Admit to the wrongful thinking that has cornered you into withholding forgiveness and ask God to forgive you.
Ask God to renew your mind (Romans 12:1a - “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...”) and renew your heart (Psalm 51:10 – “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”)
Remember Matthew 6:14,15 and
Ask God to forgive you for the bad feelings (name them) you’ve harbored in your heart toward your offender.
Ask God to give you grace and help you forgive your offender; not just in your head but in your heart as well.
If you are tired of being tired from dragging around the weight of unforgiveness, it is necessary that you be willing to re-adjust your thinking. Don’t let “forgiveness misconceptions” block you from your pathway to freedom. May this blog guide you to that pathway. You do not have to stay stuck where you are; you can move forward and enjoy the abundant life you’ve been given to the fullest.
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