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Assorted and general Bible questions that really don't fit any of the other categories

What is forgiveness?

Postby Rogue One » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:08 pm

This may seem like a simple question and I guess you could paste me a link to dictionary.com, but it is certainly a subject I have struggled with.

I was very hurt, not superficially, I mean really hurt, left in the grave hurt and the person who did it, my transgressor if you like, did it willingly with no remorse. False testimony they laid at my feet and convinced everyone that I had brought this on myself and that I deserved no pity. With an honest heart I tell you, this was pure calculated malice and the effects of it run deep, real deep some twenty years later. My family rejected me, my friends rejected me and they gossiped amongst themselves how righteous God was to pour this misery out on me.
Some twenty years later and I have not spoken to my family because they want nothing to do with me.

I pleaded with them at the time, begged them to listen to me but the lies had gone too deep and I was sent away whilst the transgressor took my friends, family, home and child.

I tell you the truth, my faith at that time was the only thing that stopped me from killing myself.

I sat outside my daughters bedroom window one night in my car (the one thing I did get to keep). I longed to hold the baby daughter I had raised and nurtured and loved with all my heart since the first time I had held her.

In that moment I understood how God felt about being seperated from us.

I saw how a lie, a malicious wicked lie could separate something so beautiful, so precious and I honestly felt helpless. I came very very close to ending it.

I shut my eyes outside her bedroom and let all the blackness of it envelop me. I was resolving to die.
In that darkness behind my eyes a candle appeared. A simple white candle with an orange flame. I heard Gods voice saying 'Get up. Nothing can seperate you from the love you have with your daughter.'

Needless to say I didn't kill myself.

Years passed and I saw my daughter grow from afar. I did try and arrange contact but it never ended well. She had been given the impression I was not a nice man and said hurtful things to me and demanded her mother.

I couldn't insist I kept her when she screamed for her mother and so I had to hand her back to the one person I despised more than any other human being on the planet.

It killed me. I cried and cried until there was nothing left to cry.

Time passed and eventually I found a new wife. I put her through hell honestly because I did not trust. She had to patiently show me that she was trustworthy and eventually I did come to trust her.

Then the persecution came like nothing I have ever known. Unreasonable demands for excessive additional child support (we were already living like paupers to pay as much as we possibly could for her upkeep) , there were threats to tell authorities that we were abusive parents (my new wife and I had children of our own now) which escalated to actual reports being made. We were investigated but as it was all so obviously baseless it was dismissed outright.

Physical threats from my ex's new boyfriend started. I was slapped about and humiliated.

It was all a massive strain on our relationship. It tested that bond of trust like nothing else could.

The persecution from the ex happened in waves. Sometimes there were quiet periods where we would hear nothing at all and then it would all start
up again.

It was a fearful way to live but our love for each other got stronger and stronger and God poured out so many blessings on us during that time.

Then we heard that my ex had cancer. It was totally unexpected as she was still young by modern standards.

Then we heard she had died not long after the diagnosis. I know it is written that God does not rejoice in death but I say unashamedly we rejoiced.

I had to deal with my ex wifes financial affairs for my daughters sake and dialog began. She loved her half sisters and saw that they were not the product of me being a bad man and so gradually she learnt to trust me. We have a lovely father /daughter relationship today thank God.

During the persecution times, I struggled with forgiveness really badly. In truth I never forgave her and wrestled hard with it. When she died I felt a huge relief and honestly thanked God.

Today I bear no ill will toward her. But is that forgivness given that I am glad she is dead?
Rogue One
 

Re: What is forgiveness?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:35 pm

Wow, that's simply awful. Thanks for being so vulnerable and honest. Yow.

I could just cut and paste words on forgiveness that I've have read in other places, but you can find those, too. I'm sure that's not what you're asking for.

I could also just toss out Bible texts about 70x7 and "forgive each other as Christ has forgiven you," but I'm going to resist that temptation also. I'll assume you know all that. There are Bible verses for everything I'm going to say, but you know that.

Some people say forgiveness is forgetting, but I don't find that to be so at all. Some things you can NEVER forget. I find, however, that forgiveness is distancing myself from my desire to get the other person back or to hurt the other person. It's when I just keep cutting those ropes pulling me to revenge or hatred. Instead, I try to build bridges, as much as it hurts me to do that. I want to lash out, but instead I try to latch on and restore the relationship. Even though I'm not feelin' it, I do it to please God.

Forgiveness is doing everything possible to distance myself from the pain in me—the "grave hurt." It's not that I put it in a closet or pretend it's not there. Rather, for the sake of my relationship with God, I train myself to admit that it ultimately doesn't matter. All that matters is God's will and God's kingdom. So I mentally untie my attachment to that pain and focus on my relationship with God. I'm not pretending, however. I truly, in a very biblical sense, let it go because my pain is not what this life is about. I have to live above life, live above that. I have to think like God wants me to think, and so I cut that rope, too.

I have to understand that God can use virtually anything and everything, even the most severe pain, to bring me into a deeper faith, a better understanding of Him, and to learn how to think differently and live more godly. And if that's really true, then I need to process the pain caused so maliciously by another person and make sure I use it to go deeper, not to become more bitter. I read the Bible with different eyes because of the pain. I pray differently because of the pain. I understand God differently (as you mentioned) and it changes the way I think about myself and about God. Now I'm not focused so much on the hurt the other person caused me (though it never seems to go away) or on the other person him/herself (though there are many other things I'd prefer to do to that person). I focus instead on my own sanctification (working out my own salvation with fear and trembling). The hurt becomes a tool rather than a festering sore. I have to learn to think differently about it.

I find that forgiveness is more of a continuum rather than a black&white either/or. It's also a process. There are some kinds of forgiveness that are unconditional, even when the other person hasn't repented or even apologized. That's a tough one, but some people are able to do it, and certain situations require it. Most of the forgiveness in the Bible is conditional: those who repent get forgiven. But this is never to be used as a weapon or as a justification for holding on to bitterness and malice. All the things I said before about distancing and thinking differently still apply. And it's a continuum and a process. Some hurts are minor and easier to simply forgive or brush off completely. Others are more meaningful and need to be worked out in myself and in the relationship. A 3rd class are very painful.

I think each situation has to be worked through as its own situation. Generalizations are difficult and often inadequate. It's easy and cheap to toss out cliches and aphorisms. That's not helpful. The hard work is in the nitty gritty of working out the relationship to the glory of God (sometimes extremely difficult and seemingly impossible, but the Bible says that we can only do so much if the other party won't cooperate or isn't into it) and working out in me whatever takes me in a Godward direction. This is a process of learning to think differently, learning to prioritize spiritual disciplines and tasks, and learning how to relate to a person who has treated me monstrously.

We can talk more as you wish. There are answers, but none of them are easy.
jimwalton
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Re: What is forgiveness?

Postby Rogue One » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:46 am

I appreciate your carefully considered reply :)

I enjoy all of your detailed comments on this forum, actually, but I appreciate that you took a brotherly approach here.

I agree with your comments.

Because of the level of persecution we faced, and real dangers that would have only escalated due to increasing drug misuse by the persecutors, we literally handed the whole situation over to God at the time in prayer and asked for His help, to not let us get trampled. We had no external family between us. No one we could go to advice for. It was us and God whom we trusted.

When she died, we were nearly at breaking point and my faith had never been so stretched. Our family flourished after that and we went on to have three more children, three sons to go with my three daughters. I have still lost my biological family as well as many friends, but there is nothing I can do about that. Their rejection of me runs deep and I really don't blame them. The lies told were malicious and told with great skill and could have only been undone with an honest confession.

The best I can do is 'bear her memory no ill. What's done is done. I don't feel anger or hatred. It's just no longer "my problem."

I don't feel God requiring anything further from me, but since I had never had the opportunity to say 'I forgive you' as we traditionally think of forgiving, I had pondered on the nature of forgiveness and hoped it may generate a more interesting discussion around the subject and perhaps encourage others to talk openly too.
Rogue One
 

Re: What is forgiveness?

Postby jimwalton » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:48 am

It sounds like, despite your horrific experience, you are dealing with it as best as someone could, and you have enough of a grasp on forgiveness to move forward, to sleep at night, and to seek further from God and His Word what there is left to do. I'll keep you in my prayers.
jimwalton
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Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:28 pm


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