Still, I wholeheartedly endorse forgiveness. I believe the Bible describes it as the letting go of what is rightfully mine to require: vengeance, payback, restitution, judgment. Without God, these things are the right of the offended person, but forgiveness releases me of that burden and reminds me of how much I have been forgiven.
Let me give you a few reminders of what forgiveness might look like.
- Forgiveness isn't forgetting.
- Forgiveness doesn't mean that what happened was okay.
- Forgiveness doesn't make everything go back to the way it was before.
- Forgiveness does not mean that we are "letting them off the hook" for the injustice of what they've done. It's giving "The Hook" to our Lord and trusting Him to heal me.
- Forgiveness especially doesn't mean that family members should excuse the wrong behavior because they are “family.”
- Forgiveness doesn't mean that we should hide, or not talk about the abuse or shy away from conflict by not talking about the abuse.
- Forgiveness does not mean that if I "truly" forgive, I will "trust." each other implicitly. Trust takes time to build. Rebuilding broken trust may take a lifetime.
Ultimately, forgiving is what I do to demonstrate that I truly trust God. I trust He knew the truth of how I was treated and that He will deal with my offender with more wisdom than I have. I remember that I need forgiveness, too. It's letting go of the record-keeping and the concern that I will forget how I have been wounded. Forgiving allows me to free my focus from what someone else has done and move that focus onto my own healing and growth. Forgiveness allows the conflict without to become peace within.