“Forgiveness…Even For Them?”

I’ve been a “Voice From The Last Pew” a time or two. I still sit within a handshake away because that where I’m most needed right now. I’ve been a “Church Insider” and a “Church Outsider.”

Forgiveness is what the cross is all about. Through it our sins are forgiven, and in gratitude and with opened eyes, we show our appreciation by forgiving others. To not do so would be to say that the blood of Jesus is good enough to wash away my sins, but not the sins of those who have sinned against me.

Forgiveness is not a difficult thing when we’re talking about someone taking the last slice of chocolate cake or cutting us off in traffic. Those things can be quickly forgiven and forgotten. But abuse of any type violates a person deeply, to the very core of who they are. It involves a different kind hurt and requires a different kind of forgiveness.

When abused, you try to protect yourself, but there is no protection. The only thing untouched perhaps is your will, maybe not your present will, but your future will. And your future will says, “I will never…” and “If I am able to get out of this alive, I will never…”

For some people it’s “I will never treat another person like this.” For others it’s “I will never forgive this person who is abusing me.” The words “I will” are all a person has sometimes. They may offer the only protection and comfort.

What I want to say is that this is about protecting yourself. It’s not about rejecting the Bible or the teachings of Jesus. He knows what happened. He knows you’ve survived the best you can. He knows you are a mess inside even if on the outside everything looks fine. He knows it takes time to recover and heal.

Here is the dilemma.

If you forgive the abuser, then it will seem like they have beaten you up again. You have surrendered the last thing that was truly your own that no one could touch: your will. The abuser has totally won.

If you don’t forgive the abuser, then your Heavenly Father won’t forgive you. You’re going to hell for unforgiven sin. You will have to spend eternity in hell with your abuser who laughs at you, abuses you even more, only there is no escape from hell.

But what if your abuser repents of all their sins and forgave everyone, and then our Heavenly Father forgives them? And what if you don’t? You’re going to hell for unforgiven sin. Your abuser has a clean record. They’re going to heaven for all eternity. You’re a loser, just like they told you that you were while they were abusing you.

Stuff like this can keep a person up all night. Seriously.

But it’s real. Just as real as the bruises and welts and marks. Just as real as the pain. Just as real as the coverup.

But even more real is Jesus. He is King. What He says goes, and what He says more and more if we will only listen is this…“My Kingdom is ruled by the Spirit, not the Letter.”

Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 3:6 (KJV)

The message of the letter is “thou shalt surely die” but the message of the spirit of our Jesus is “thou shalt surely live.”

I’m concerned that we could take even the words of Jesus and turn them into words of the letter that kill rather than allowing them to be words of the spirit that give life.

For many people who have been abused or who are recovering from abuse, to say, “You must forgive your abuser” is like being killed, like having the last bit of life removed. Unless you’ve lived it and survived, it may be difficult to understand.

Truly forgiveness comes in time, but I believe it’s most likely to slip up on you, when you least expect it. You will give it up because you have slowly and gradually embraced Jesus, and He has become a greater comfort to you than unforgiveness.

Here is the only part that I’m putting in bold. If you can relate to this and are struggling with this or know someone who is…seek counseling. There are resources available that can help you. I’m just drawing and write from my limited perspective. But there are professionals that can help you. Seriously. Jesus is right there with you on the last pew. Honestly.

34 thoughts on ““Forgiveness…Even For Them?”

  1. I have had to forgive a lot, especially after the stroke. God brought me back and restored me, and I learned of His forgiveness. I had to learn to let go of many things that I was hanging on to: what my step-mother said about my best friend burning hell; the abuse of my grandfather (for wetting the bed when I was seven (his wife would pull out the Bible and read Proverbs 13:24, call me a wicked child and that I deserved it)); the neglect of my mother; my sexual assault (still dealing with that). These things were eating at my heart, making me bitter, and not fully experiencing the joy of the Lord.

    Part of the joy of His love is letting go of those who have hurt you. These things are VERY difficult to let go of. I know. They are very painful, as you feel like they are hurting you all over again. These people in my life never asked for my forgiveness, and if they were alive, they would probably never admit they did nothing wrong (maybe my mother). I have a right to hang on to the anger I feel about my childhood, and yet I forgive, because I was forgiven. Even the guy who assaulted me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much for adding your experiences about forgiveness because I know there is so much more that can be said, that should be said.

      Just a question for you…What would be the best thing that the Church could do for you as the Body of Christ?

      That is…not knowing what you have experienced, not knowing what’s going on with you, what would be the best thing that a church group could do for you if you were visiting for the first time?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think the best this would be to emphasize the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and not so much the wrath of God. We know God’s wrath. We know God can not abide sin. People need to know that He is much more than a vengeful monster, that He is a friend, a teacher, a comforter, savior; that He can heal the wounds of the past. He is painted by the media as either a bumbling naive fool (Oh God!) or someone who likes to smite people (The Ten Commandments). He is much more than that. People have to know, so someone like me doesn’t have to have a stroke to find out.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. When you care about the material and you want it to be truthful, it’s a laborious and often maddening process. I have only posted 12 blogs in 2 years and I write every day… I feel your pain! (haha). Keep writing and patiently listen to the Lord for direction!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I was taught that to forgive is at the heart of being a Christ follower but to do it not just in words but in my actions is not easy. It is tough to forgive on command. Focussing on forgiving may not be the best way to do this. I found focussing on being transformed led me to forgiving. God changed who I was and changes who I am which allows me to forgive. I have gone through things that have hurt me in ways that I would not wish on anyone. I am going through things that are changing me in ways that I would wish on everyone. I desire to please God, forgiveness is a part of this. God changes me in a way that is tailored to me, so I can forgive . This takes His perfect timing. Life is a process of transformation filled with God’s mercy and grace not a schedule forced by fear of God’s vengeance. .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. I really think that reading things like this helps people because in a way we are all lost together, so we need to help each other out when and as we can.

      And I have to add too that I think it’s particularly important for other men that you’ve shared some of what you’ve had to overcome, not because women don’t have problems, but because they seem to have a better support system than men. It’s sad to think that most men would only hear another guy say, “yes, that happened to me too” or “I’m working on that myself” or “it’s taken me a long time to get past it” unless they stumble across something like your comments his post.

      “Transformation” is a wonderful word, and it reminds me that day by day, little by little we are all being transformed, and I pray, more and more into the image of Christ (into the image of our Redeemer, not into the image of anyone who hurt us).

      Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, this is going to be a powerful series. Your last comment really hit the nail on the head, whose image do we bear? The crazy truth is that the actual image does not change, God made us full of dignity and worth, something so powerful no one can actually take it away but abuse warps our self image, makes us forget the blessings our good God has made. Thanks for letting your imagination loose, may it help transform people’s lives.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Chuck! And thanks also for this…”God made us full of dignity and worth, something so powerful no one can actually take it away but abuse warps our self image.” That is a hugely important reminder, and something that can be too easily forgotten. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My husband always says Christians are all on iffernt levels of growth. Because of our personalities and backgrounds, we learn different things at differnt times. Churches don’t recognize this. We all must reach their standard or we are not allowed to join their church or stay in it. If you step one toe over their line they will let you know it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Your husband is quite right. We aren’t all the same, and thankfully God understands what we need and when we need it!

        I must admit that in the past I’ve thought like the church people you described. It was wrong of me, though I can’t remember why it took me so long to see it! I guess that’s one of the worst things about spiritual blindness…you don’t realize how blind you really are!

        My mindset back then was “I’ve just learned this, now you need to learn it too!” I don’t know, maybe I thought I was helping a God out?!? But hopefully I never treated anyone like they weren’t welcome.

        It took me a long time to figure out that if I truly believed that Jesus is Lord, then I have to trust Him to be Lord in other lives too and to then trust Him to do what as best with and for other people.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I was quite the horrible legalist in my twenties. Insufferable, I think. When I wanted to kill my first husband for cheating on me, I knew then what a sinner I was and how I was capable of even murder. Other sins I’ve committed have also humbled me.

        I am a person “prone to sin, oh Lord I feel it…” I know that without Jesus, “I can do nothing.” Not one good thing comes from me. If I ever do a good thing, it’s all God doing it.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yes, I forgave him. We stayed together for awile but he just couldnt stay faithful. He’s been married 3 times now and lived with others. We get along fine. He used to come for Xmas. My husband didn’t mind. I’m afraid my daughters don’t love him and dread seeing him now. I feel sorry for him an actually still love him, which is all God’s doing.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I want to comment on one of your comments. You asked what the church could do to help those who are in mental pain? I went to a Mennonite Church for a year, and every Sunday after the sermon, they asked if anyone needed prayer. They told us what room to go to if anything was troubling you. I did go there once and it was wonderful to have this couple pray for me about my problem.

    I think just acknowledging that we Christians have problems would help. My church didn’t really do that. We used to have a sharing time before the sermon where anyone could stand or put up their hand and share whatever they wanted. I found that this helped me to know the problems others were having and I could pray for them. And it was fun to share something wonderful God had done for you that week.

    Then the old people complained about sharing and it was over and done with. Just like that. Back to most of us being strangers and feeling isolated.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are great ideas! It’s a shame about some people didn’t like something that was benefiting others and then got it stopped! That’s sad. (And only because it inconvenienced them a little?!?)

      What actually sparked this series was being in church one Sunday when it was mentioned some way, I don’t remember exactly how, that forgiveness is hard for some people because they have suffered through terrible things. It was the first time that I had ever heard this acknowledged. Ever.

      What you have described here, sort of like a person-to-person time to communicate accomplishes the same thing, just acknowledging is huge.

      I hope that comments like yours will encourage people to ask at their local church level, “How can we be more open? More of an aid to healing and transforming?”

      As always, thanks so much for sharing your experiences, thoughts, and feelings!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed. And I have to say, when it does happen, forgiveness of someone who had hurt you and crippled you in so many unimaginable ways, that is a miracle. It is just as much of a miracle as Jesus making a crippled person to be able to walk again. I guess what I’m getting at is that there is emotional healing too, and it’s often overlooked. That healing and that forgiven has to be a work of God, has to be a miracle. But it’s not easy. And it’s not fast. Anyway, I’m glad you like this series. It takes a great deal of prayerful thought. Thanks for your support and encouragement. They really mean a great deal to me?

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This

    “For many people who have been abused or who are recovering from abuse, to say, “You must forgive your abuser” is like being killed, like having the last bit of life removed. Unless you’ve lived it and survived, it may be difficult to understand.
    Truly forgiveness comes in time, but I believe it’s most likely to slip up on you, when you least expect it. You will give it up because you have slowly and gradually embraced Jesus, and He has become a greater comfort to you than unforgiveness.”

    You hit it on the head. Speaks to my experiences of physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological abuse.
    I went through counseling, and I’m still working. That last paragraph gave me hope.

    Thank you so much ❤❤❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your comment and I’m truly grateful that this has been of some help to you. That really makes all the work involved extremely worthwhile. I’m finding that it’s really the most difficult strip to do, much more difficult than I had imagined. Part of that is the feeling (right or wrong) that I only have one chance to help someone (and that’s reflected in the strip’s title).

      I have been working on a follow up to this one, roughly titled “Forgiveness…Even For Myself?” That one will take the help of the Holy Spirit as well, and will look at how we tend to wrongly blame ourselves for abusive things that have been done to us. (Sort of like “If only I had…then maybe it wouldn’t have happened.”) At least that’s what’s on the digital drawing board for now.

      Praying for you. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! That really means a lot to me. I want to help people heal who need it if I possibly can and point them, hopefully, in the direction of the Ultimate Healer, Jesus.


  6. I had to not only forgive one of my abusers but four of them. I was abused for 12 years. There is great healing the name of Jesus. No I am not forgiving the actions they did on me by any means, but sin is sin and how dare me not forgive them for their sin when Christ freely, without grudging forgave mine. No this forgiveness doesn’t take the deep rooted pain away and it doesn’t cure the anxiety and depression, but it does allow for Christ to take over your heart and hold and shape it into something beautiful from something you though was so broken. This is a great blog, thank you for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for adding your own personal experiences. I believe that comments like yours help others to see that they aren’t alone and that they aren’t the only one. I’m so glad you’ve found your voice and embraced Christ. Thanks again for reading and commenting! John

      Liked by 1 person

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