Is forgiveness required?

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Red Ryder
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Is forgiveness required?

Post by Red Ryder » Sun May 02, 2021 10:37 am

Without giving much context and hypothetically speaking, if I have been extremely wronged, traumatized, or taken advantage of by another person; am I required to forgive in order to heal and move forward?

It seems that the common answer people give is yes. You must forgive in order to forget and move forward. This seems to stem from a variant of the atonement where I am required to forgive in order to not be in a state of sin?

That seems circular to me? If I don’t forgive my transgressors, then I am a sinner. However Christ atoned for me therefore he covers my inability to forgive? Maybe that’s the hook to bind me to Christ?

So why is forgiveness the oft spoken answer? Is it really necessary?

Or is forgiveness our brains easy way of letting go in order to allocate emotional resources to more pressing issues in life? A shortcut of sorts?
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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alas
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by alas » Sun May 02, 2021 12:05 pm

Depends on how you understand forgiveness. Many times people push “forgiveness” when what they mean is stop bothering me with your injuries caused by what was done to you. Other times they mean stop being angry at me so I can abuse you again. Or stop being angry because I want to pretend nothing ever happened. Lots of people push others to forgive for their own selfish reasons, and that isn’t really even forgiveness, it is more like absolution.

First of all, before you can forgive, you have to recognize what was done, and the injury. They you have to know it isn’t going to just keep on happening. And you have to know that it wasn’t something you deserved. This is what makes it so difficult for a child who was abused to forgive their abuser. Or a spouse, for that matter. They partially think they deserved the bad treatment. Being angry is their reminder that they did not deserve it. So, until they are SURE they did not deserve it, they stay angry. It is a way of insisting on the idea that the bad person really is a bad person and that they were not a bad child/spouse.

See, forgiveness is putting away anger, and anger is not a bad emotion. It has a purpose. It is designed to protect you. When you are angry at someone who hurt you, you stay away from them and prevent being hurt again. Being angry says that other person caused the hurt, so you avoid self blame. So, sometimes, there is a damned good reason not to forgive. In spouse abuse cases, forgiveness often isn’t good for the victim. Anger is not a sin. What you do with your anger can be. But the anger itself is a warning that something is wrong.

But when you know you are safe from being hurt again, then you don’t need to spend all that energy on anger, because being angry takes a lot of energy. So, then you can let the anger go and move on.

So, if you are “unforgiving” ask yourself if the anger is serving a purpose. It may be, or it may be that you are staying angry because you got in the habit when it was necessary, and you need to reevaluate. For example, I had a child abuse survivor who was unable to let go of her anger at her abusive stepfather. She saw him as this monster and hated him. Then after 30 years of hating him, she saw him and he had become a pathetic old crippled man. He was no longer the big strong monster he had been when she was 10, and she was able to forgive him, because she saw that he was no longer capable of beating and raping her. It didn’t mean she wanted to be good buddies or let him full time into her life again, but she was able to forgive because she knew on an emotional level she was safe from him.

Sometimes after years of abuse, even if the abuser is a church, you stay angry because you keep finding ways that the abuser screwed up your life. So, with each new discovery of how something screwed up your life, you go through the anger stage all over again. Like layers to an onion, each layer you peel off makes you cry. The only thing you can do, is heal each injury, then let go of the anger for that injury. You can’t do it all at once because you may not even understand all the damage.

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Just This Guy
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Just This Guy » Sun May 02, 2021 12:23 pm

In my view, the forgive and forget idea is damaging. It's one thing toenitikbslky.mkve on from an event. But forgetting a out it is dangerous. To forget about it is to ignore the human nature that many people will do it again if given the opportunity.

I know to many examples if people pushing forgive and forget only to be taken wronged and taken advantage if again and again.

I don't care how forguven a person is, I wouldn't let a known child molester around my kids. Protecting myself and my family is more important than any forgiveness.

To borrow from Tolkien, there are some things that should not be forgotten.

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Reuben
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Reuben » Sun May 02, 2021 4:26 pm

Cue Palerider in 3... 2... 1... heck, I'll do it.

One of the most useful things I learned here at NOM I learned from Palerider: the difference between forgiving and reconciling.

Forgiving can be helpful, as alas points out, when the threat has passed. It can be done without the injuring party's help, but the injuring party can help it along. It's about letting go, moving on, finding peace.

Reconciling is about restoring trust, fixing the relationship, finding an acceptable new normal. Things will be different. There should be apologies. There will be bad memories and some self-protection. It requires both parties. And if one of the parties is demanding forgiveness of the other, it's probably the party that needs to change the most if reconciliation is ever going to happen.
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Palerider
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Palerider » Mon May 03, 2021 6:35 am

Ha! Just when I thought no one was listening. Here's a reprint of that "article" for what it's worth. (I don't usually drone on for so long.) ;)

The LDS church (and others) are SO misguided on the forgiveness principle. They don't understand it and have actually corrupted it.

I've written this before but maybe you all will indulge me one more time?

1. Big difference between "forgiveness" and "reconciliation".

Anciently in tribal situations someone who was offended took their own vengeance. "You killed my brother, so now in my hot anger, I'm going to kill you, your wife, your children.... maybe your whole freaking tribe because you're all just a bunch of bad people anyway. Yep....I'm going to lay waste to all you bastards for what you have done.

Enter the Law of Moses. In essence it says, "You can't take more vengeance than what is right and proper. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth". No more wreaking havoc on everyone. This was a big step in the right direction.

Enter the higher law of Christ:
You have offended me but I'm not going to take any VENGEANCE on you. Instead I'm going to forgive you. THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE ARE RECONCILED....
It only means I'm not going to seek vengeance. Vengeance is God's to take.

It doesn't mean I won't let civil law take it's course if you have broken the law. Civil law is there to protect the innocent. It's a good thing!

Reconciliation is interlocked with TRUST. We don't automatically grant strangers access to our lives. Neither do we grant access to those who have become ESTRANGED to us through their evil deeds. They have abused the trust we gave them and now it's going to take a long time to regain that trust. It may never happen. But at least we have forgiven them so that we didn't beat them to a pulp or kill them in our anger.....and it allows us to get on with our lives in a mentally/emotionally healthy way.

Reconciliation means that the offender has made such significant changes in their life which have been proven over a LONG period of time that we can now begin to TRUST them to come back into our lives. Reconciliation is a great deal more than a lip service apology. With some offenders who are mentally bent or twisted, true reconciliation may never happen.
Doesn't mean we haven't forgiven them. Just means we aren't stupid about who we permit back into our lives.

The horror stories that come out of the church on this issue of repentance and forgiveness should be a big red flag that their approach and understanding here is extremely flawed. I can only believe that Joseph Smith is responsible for setting the culture in the way he "forgave" so called offenders (who were really just following his example) and then quickly re-baptized them back into the church.

Just look at how long the church makes someone wait now to be re-baptized after excommunication. Look how many hoops you have to jump through to make them happy and feel secure. So for the organization, they get to wait as long as they want and you come to them on their terms only. But for Mormon families who have conflict, immediate reconciliation is the expectation. It's astoundingly hypocritical.

ETA: This poor woman was part of the September Six who were excommunicated 23 years ago and the church still won't approve her re-baptism. Church leadership may have "forgiven" her but no way are they going to reconcile with her as long as they consider her a threat.
If it's good enough for church leadership, it's good enough for you.
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2bizE
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by 2bizE » Mon May 03, 2021 10:54 am

I’m pretty much over any organized religion, but I think forgiveness and asking for forgiveness are important for humankind. Whether Christ taught this or people believe that Christ taught this, I think it is one of the most beautiful teachings. I certainly don’t think this concept is limited to Christianity .
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Red Ryder
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Red Ryder » Mon May 03, 2021 1:04 pm

“alas” wrote: See, forgiveness is putting away anger, and anger is not a bad emotion. It has a purpose. It is designed to protect you. When you are angry at someone who hurt you, you stay away from them and prevent being hurt again. Being angry says that other person caused the hurt, so you avoid self blame. So, sometimes, there is a damned good reason not to forgive. In spouse abuse cases, forgiveness often isn’t good for the victim. Anger is not a sin. What you do with your anger can be. But the anger itself is a warning that something is wrong.
I really like this alas. No damn good reason to forgive is a valid answer and anger is ok. So if someone says “you need to forgive ____” it’s perfectly ok to say “why? There’s no damn good reason I need to!” Love it.
Palerider wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 6:35 am
Ha! Just when I thought no one was listening. Here's a reprint of that "article" for what it's worth. (I don't usually drone on for so long.) ;)

The LDS church (and others) are SO misguided on the forgiveness principle. They don't understand it and have actually corrupted it.

I've written this before but maybe you all will indulge me one more time?

1. Big difference between "forgiveness" and "reconciliation".
<snip>

If it's good enough for church leadership, it's good enough for you.
Pale rider, I read this once before but it didn’t resonate at the time. It does now. Thanks for taking the time to post again.

Can you think of an example where you can reconcile but not forgive? Toxic relationships come to mind. Understanding why they are, but not continuing to maintain it?
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Red Ryder
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Red Ryder » Mon May 03, 2021 1:09 pm

“alas” wrote: Sometimes after years of abuse, even if the abuser is a church, you stay angry because you keep finding ways that the abuser screwed up your life. So, with each new discovery of how something screwed up your life, you go through the anger stage all over again. Like layers to an onion, each layer you peel off makes you cry. The only thing you can do, is heal each injury, then let go of the anger for that injury. You can’t do it all at once because you may not even understand all the damage.
How did you get your clients to realize this and help them come to a place of healing?
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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alas
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by alas » Mon May 03, 2021 3:21 pm

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 1:09 pm
“alas” wrote: Sometimes after years of abuse, even if the abuser is a church, you stay angry because you keep finding ways that the abuser screwed up your life. So, with each new discovery of how something screwed up your life, you go through the anger stage all over again. Like layers to an onion, each layer you peel off makes you cry. The only thing you can do, is heal each injury, then let go of the anger for that injury. You can’t do it all at once because you may not even understand all the damage.
How did you get your clients to realize this and help them come to a place of healing?
One step at a time. I used the onion analogy many times because with each new discovery of harm to their life, they would feel like they were back at the beginning. But really, they were not back at the beginning, just onto a new phase. For example, getting married would bring up one set of problems, having children of your own brings up a new set, and when a child reaches the age they were when the abuse started, it brings up whole new challenges. This is why therapy for something like child sexual abuse can take years of therapy to heal.

Church leaders do not comprehend this and expect a quick fix. An abuser can be told to pay for one year of therapy as “restitution” for 10 years of ongoing abuse, then the church rebaptizes them and declares them forgiven and then turn on the victim as being unwilling to forgive when they have only had one half of a chance to heal. Or, say the abuse is reported when they are a teenager. They get therapy then and the church expects them to be fixed. But then they reach a new stage in life and they need more therapy. This is NORMAL, especially for in family abuse. But the church treats it like there is something terribly wrong with the abuse survivor “who can’t get over it.”

An example everyone knows about is Elizabeth Smart. When she was rescued, she had some pretty intense therapy. But then years later as an adult, she is molested by a weirdo on an airplane, and it brings up all kinds of crap for her all over again. We all see it as normal when it is Elizabeth Smart, she was kidnapped and raped, but somehow we can’t see it as normal for the little girl whose own daddy is the bad guy and that the abuse started when she was 4 and lasted until she was 16.

Once I had a client who at 16 said she had forgiven her abuser. Mormon of course .... well, we shall have to undo that forgiveness, my dear, and get you screaming angry at him. Because when they forgive before they even start to heal, all it does is short circuit the healing process. That is what this screwed up church pushes them into. If they cannot be angry at the person who hurt them, then they turn the anger on themselves, and you have self destructive behavior of some kind, often a “cutter”. This is a common reaction with child sexual abuse where the survivor will take razor blades and cut themselves, because physical pain numbs the emotional pain.

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moksha
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by moksha » Tue May 04, 2021 12:30 am

Forgiveness was a pretty radical concept when Jesus introduced it. Forgiveness upended the eye for an eye concept of Moses and put believers on a less barbaric plane. Secular laws have sprung up around that, making it harder to exact revenge on a measure per measure basis.

Anger takes a lot of energy to maintain, whereas, forgiveness is a lower energy effort. If anger grates at you, perhaps you could imagine all sorts of physical punishment you would mete out to those who have made you angry. Do this enough and you will be satiated and desire to move on.
Good faith does not require evidence, but it also does not turn a blind eye to that evidence. Otherwise, it becomes misplaced faith.
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Palerider
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Palerider » Tue May 04, 2021 11:25 am

Red Ryder wrote:
Mon May 03, 2021 1:04 pm
Pale rider, I read this once before but it didn’t resonate at the time. It does now. Thanks for taking the time to post again.

Can you think of an example where you can reconcile but not forgive? Toxic relationships come to mind. Understanding why they are, but not continuing to maintain it?
Hey Red,

I'm not sure I understand your question completely. Feel free to expand for clarification if I don't get this right.

Reconciliation before forgiveness seems to be putting the cart before the horse. As Alas stated healing takes time. As an analogy, to attempt a reconciliation before or while forgiveness and healing have done their work would be forcing a broken part of the body to do it's job before it is mended.
I think this is why cheating in a marriage is so difficult to overcome. The couple have to live and operate together while one is despising the other.

If the offended party can suffer through it long enough and the offender can show trustworthiness and remorse over the time it takes the offended to heal (and beyond) then maybe they can make it. But this could take a significant amount of time. When a part of the body is damaged it doesn't matter how quickly we wish we could get back to normal. That part is going to take it's own time to heal and to try and force it will only damage it further. One cannot force forgiveness or reconciliation.

Regarding toxic relationships:

Toxic relationships seem to have individuals involved that are not prepared for or interested in the health of the "other". They are characterized by ongoing or continual re-offence and no true effort to change behavior patterns is made or even recognized as necessary.

ETA: Toxic relationships are "competitive" not "complimentary". Fine if you're doing business. Not so good if you're creating a healthy familial relationship.

So why would someone want to attempt to reconcile in that type of relationship?

If one is allowing themselves to be manipulated, they need some serious counseling to ascertain why they would permit someone to do that to them and how to get themselves to a place where that is unacceptable and they can find someone they can create a healthy relationship with.

As for the manipulator, they may have a streak of the sociopath running in their character and I don't know if there is a lot of room for character development in those people. Alas may know better than I do but trying to "rescue" one of those types of people seems like a futile effort. They believe their own lies and they rationalize their bad behavior as always being the other person's fault. They are only interested in how the relationship benefits them at the other's expense.

Very few (if any) bishops can identify one of these characters because bishops themselves are subject to being manipulated by them. Sociopathic people are very good at what they do.

Not sure if this is where you were going with this. Feel free to tell me if I've gone in the wrong direction.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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alas
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by alas » Tue May 04, 2021 12:24 pm

Red, as far as reconciling before forgiveness, again it is going to depend on how you define reconcile. I chose to stay in some sort of relationship with my father, even when he wasn’t forgiven. But it was a guarded, limited relationship. I didn’t treat him like most daughters do their father. He was never alone with one of my children and I didn’t let them sleep over at his house. I didn’t let myself be in any kind of position where he could hurt me. I recognized he was not capable of certain kinds of caring about others, so I didn’t expect him to show real love.

So, if you ask, can you be in a relationship with someone you have not forgiven, the answer is yes. But if you are asking if the relationship can be like it was before they hurt you, the answer is no.

The person has to regain trust before the relationship can be like it was before and that takes time, whether or not the person forgives. My relationship with my father didn’t change after I forgave him, because I saw no real evidence that I could trust him. But, I don’t think he ever really completed the repentance process, because he never really understood the things from my perspective. He never regained a normal father/daughter relationship with me, so in that sense we never did reconcile, but I visited him. I don’t think I would have if he didn’t live with my mother that I wanted a relationship with. So, yes, you can stay in some semblance of a relationship without forgiveness, but I am not sure I would call it reconciliation.

Of course, I was under pressure to have a normal father/daughter relationship with him. Even at his funeral, people were pushing me to act like I was really grieving. But I wasn’t, so why act like it for the benefit of others? He was forgiven, but not loved.

I won’t get into the unhealthy ways that people jump back into full trusting relationships, and get beaten again and yet hold a grudge, hating the other person, but still failing to protect themselves from abuse, like my mother did. That is a form of reconciliation without forgiveness, where the person continues to stay in an abusive relationship, while hating the other person, but not getting away from them. Really unhealthy from every way you look at it. But, yeah people do it.

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Palerider
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Palerider » Tue May 04, 2021 12:38 pm

As an added note:

I feel like from the Christian perspective, forgiveness is a requirement. When accomplished in it's own time it actually helps the offended as much or more than the offender. I'm not sure reconciliation is required.

I don't see this particular scripture hardly ever quoted in church but I think it has great bearing on how forgiveness and reconciliation work.

Matt. 18: 15-18

"15Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.

16But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

17And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican."

So the offender may be forgiven but if they continue to be a jerk there is no need for reconciliation. One may avoid them without guilt.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

George Washington

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Red Ryder
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Red Ryder » Tue May 04, 2021 1:41 pm

Thank you both for your thoughts.

I need to process some more and then come back to this. A friend is sorting through childhood trauma and the common response seems to be to forgive the offender. I’ve argued back there’s no need but they have church/Christian indoctrination that persuades them they have to. So when they can’t, they stay in a cycle of anxiety.

You’ve both provided wonderful wisdom. I just need time to consolidate in my brain. 😀
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by hmb » Wed May 05, 2021 5:02 am

I always thought that the requirement to forgive was too broad. Forgive and forget doesn't have to mean you just let it go, as if it never happened. Someone mentioned anger as being a normal emotion. It isn't bad to be angry. I agree. Anger serves a purpose. Now grudges can be destructive. Some people will hold on to grudges like holding to the iron rod. I've seen 2 particular people, in my life, that hold on to grudges that does nothing but induce hate. It eats them up. Meanwhile, the people they hold the grudge against have moved on. The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short. Why would I want to torment myself with hatred. To be fair, I've not been wronged as severely as some, and I can only speak for myself.

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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by 2bizE » Wed May 05, 2021 9:49 am

I believe forgiveness serves a purpose. If you step back from a Mormon/Christian perspective and view forgiveness from a human perspective, it apologizing and forgiveness important?
I think it is. There are a few reasons for forgiveness: 1) someone has caused harm to you, 2) you have caused harm to someone, 3) someone has caused harm to someone you care about.
Forgiveness is managed differently, but I think it is still a human thing to do rather than a religious thing.
Here is a link to a humanist website talking about forgiveness:
https://stateofformation.org/2012/10/fo ... rspective/
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Palerider
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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Palerider » Wed May 05, 2021 8:40 pm

hmb wrote:
Wed May 05, 2021 5:02 am
I always thought that the requirement to forgive was too broad. Forgive and forget doesn't have to mean you just let it go, as if it never happened. Someone mentioned anger as being a normal emotion. It isn't bad to be angry. I agree. Anger serves a purpose. Now grudges can be destructive. Some people will hold on to grudges like holding to the iron rod. I've seen 2 particular people, in my life, that hold on to grudges that does nothing but induce hate. It eats them up. Meanwhile, the people they hold the grudge against have moved on. The older I get, the more I realize that life is too short. Why would I want to torment myself with hatred. To be fair, I've not been wronged as severely as some, and I can only speak for myself.
Anger is usually a by product of pain. Whether that pain happens to you directly or to someone you care about. It is a normal response but uncontrolled anger can be very destructive. I'm always in admiration of someone who can control their emotions. They seem to think more clearly in difficult situations.

To me a grudge is low key, back burner anger. Where the offended is waiting/looking for an opportunity to get even. They're carrying their anger long after the heat of the moment has passed.

I agree that "forgiveness" as many understand it (or don't truly understand it) is much oversimplified.
"There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily."

"Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light."

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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by dogbite » Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm

I don't think forgiveness is required.

I think letting go is beneficial in that it frees you from the weight of carrying the pain, opening up the brain space, dumping the thoughts occupying your mind.

And for some, forgiveness is a path to that letting go.

The wanting for a justice that isn't coming, for a comeuppance. These desires are sapping and waste your capacity for things you value. Letting go, even without forgiveness, improves your life and possibly yourself. It simplifies your thinking and often your life.

But if forgiveness helps you let go, then forgive.

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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by Linked » Fri May 07, 2021 8:08 am

dogbite wrote:
Thu May 06, 2021 3:26 pm
I don't think forgiveness is required.

I think letting go is beneficial in that it frees you from the weight of carrying the pain, opening up the brain space, dumping the thoughts occupying your mind.

And for some, forgiveness is a path to that letting go.

The wanting for a justice that isn't coming, for a comeuppance. These desires are sapping and waste your capacity for things you value. Letting go, even without forgiveness, improves your life and possibly yourself. It simplifies your thinking and often your life.

But if forgiveness helps you let go, then forgive.
I like this distinction between forgiveness and letting go. Forgiveness seems to imply that you no longer think that the person who wronged you is liable for the hurt that they caused; that they either paid their debt to you, that you absolve them of it, or that you no longer think that what they did actually wronged you.

Whereas when letting go you can continue to think that the person who wronged you was wrong and that they still have work to do to make it right, but you aren't going to let that run your life. It's an empowering position to take. "You screwed up and it hurt me and you didn't make it right. You behaved badly and continue to do so. But what YOU do doesn't define ME, so I'm gonna live my best life and you have no say in it."

ETA - Letting go without forgiveness only makes sense if you are cutting the offender out of your life, or at least significantly limiting their influence. To really reconcile I think you have to get to a point where you've forgiven the other person. But like pointed out in previous posts, there are loads and loads of examples of reconciliation without remorse from the perp or forgiveness from the victim, and it's a mess.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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Re: Is forgiveness required?

Post by fetchface » Fri May 07, 2021 9:08 am

Forgiveness is a nebulous term. I think a lot of people like to say it is required, because they are Christian and Jesus said it is required. Outside of that, I don't see why it would be.

You want to let go of toxic anger for your own mental health and all that for sure. Sometimes that means coming to terms with the fact that a person caused great harm or injustice, feels no remorse, and will get away with it.

For example, if I think about Boyd K. Packer, he personifies the harm the church did to me. I'll never forgive him for it. He (and others like him throughout church history) damn well should have known better than to craft and protect a fake narrative and harm me with it like they did. They essentially committed fraud against me and got away with my money and a bunch of my life. Why do I have to forgive them?

On the other hand, in a typical month, I spend maybe a minute or less feeling actual anger about it. I've let it go and I feel like I'm essentially as healed from Mormonism as I can be. I don't feel like saying, "I forgive Boyd K. Packer" would move me any further along the healing process.

I can see an instance where it may be necessary to "forgive" to move on; if you are Christian and Jesus's commandment to forgive is causing you anxiety. I solved that by realizing that was just Jesus's opinion, and I gave myself permission to hold a different opinion from Jesus. Jesus wasn't always right. I mean, his advice on divorce was just appalling after all.
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