Theologically speaking. . .

There is something that has been bothering me for quite some time. In the instance of anger and wrongdoing, you will very often hear people (very learned people, even) say that when you cannot forgive the person who has done you wrong you still must if for no other reason than your own well-being.
I certainly agree. I have a big lump of resentment right now that I am trying to manage.

It usually resides somewhere in my gut but can, on occasion, rise up like a huge weight in my throat – yeah, it’s that kind of anger and disappointment.

I’m working through all of the necessary steps to forgive, let go and let live, etc. but my question is this – if your motivations are not for any other reason than because the stress is not good for you, knowing that dis-ease causes disease, is that truly forgiveness? It seems it would need to be more altruistic in its origin in order to truly meet the standard.

4 thoughts on “Theologically speaking. . .

  1. I hate the topic of forgiveness because, well, we all hate have to forgive and must of us hate to be forgiven too!

    But! 🙂

    Without revealing the horrible sceptre of my psychological egoism, is there any way we can hope to achieve altruism? Apart from all the many words we expend on grace, does it not come into action in our lives in just these hard places to raise us up over ourselves and what we can manage to do on our own, so that our reach can extend far beyond where it ought?

    Or in other words, even having a disposition of forgiveness towards ourselves will show us how we can’t expect to forgive an other in perfection?

    1. Good questions. I think that forgiving of self here is key. I wouldn’t say that I have anger for the person, but the situation, which is an important distinction for me personally.
      I struggle with the fact that while I would never want to say I give up on a person, I have to absolutely ensure that in no way can this person reach or affect me for at least a year. That’s just the kind of person I am when in such situations, for good or for ill. That kind of time always gives me space to soften and to fully realize that the problem was most likely one of my expectations as much as it was their shortcomings. That being said, I have to be realistic. If someone affects my mental and physical health, and is a horrifically negative influence on both because they are dedicated to a life of self-destruction which is unfortunately not self-limiting, I have to annex off myself entirely because there are those who realize that such behaviors are problematic, and even that rely upon me for answers. With such a person in my life I can neither give them or live them. While I wouldn’t say what I have is pity, it is something akin to it. A pity from a distance and realization that I am not better than but absolutely better off.
      Most important to me is the discipline of praying for this individual every day, to help them find whatever joy they are meant to and to live it fully. I think that this is more effective to me than any other practice and it helps me pray and achieve the same thing for myself.

  2. Have you ever read -Toxic Parents- as a part of your studies? If not I recommend it. The context is abusive parents, but there’s a very explicit statement in there outlining a theory that you do NOT have to forgive someone who is not repentant.

    It’s a little convoluted (you have to read it) but the gist of it is that God doesn’t expect us to compromise our own well-being for the sake of someone else’s, just for the sake of doing it. After all, he expects US to be healthy too.

    The book goes on to talk about ways to move past the hurt and pain that don’t require forgiveness, so I agree that in order to help ourselves we must get past all the negative reactions. But if you’ve been wronged, then there’s no foul in acknowledging that — particularly if the other party is unrepentant.

  3. That sounds like an important distinction, Catherine, and I will certainly check it out. Sounds like it addresses wholly some boundary issues, and I read up as much as I can about those in all kinds of contexts.

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