Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Not Everything is Forgivable

I am really ticked off that so many experts, shrinks, religious leaders, and medical doctors say that if you’ve been wronged, regardless of how severely, you must forgive the person who wronged you or you are considered a bad person who will never heal.

I think that is some of the stupidest tripe I have ever heard expressed.

First of all, if unconditional forgiveness itself does not allow for judgment, how is it fair that other people can judge your virtue simply because you won’t find it in your heart to forgive somebody?  (Throw that at the next person who tries to judge you for not forgiving someone). 

Secondly, forgiveness focuses on the perpetrator.  A victim should not be fixated.  It freezes them and prevents them from getting on with their life. 

I want to tell you a story about someone who I have never forgiven.  This person – who shall remain nameless to protect their identity – was someone who I trusted to arrange something for me.  I put my mind, body, soul and savings into this experience, and this person did not take the responsibility to make sure serious information was checked.  And because of that, everything I put in was blown. 

They ruined something that meant a tremendous deal to me.  And, to top everything off, this person still wanted compensation.  I thought it would have been more professional and classy to say, “Since you did everything I asked you to do and I blew it, don’t pay me.”  But instead, they sent me a bill.  After some period of time, I finally told them, “The truth is I don’t, can’t and won’t forgive you.  This was your responsibility and you blew it.  You’ve been compensated, and I’m left here staring at my fingernails.”

As you can see, I expressed no forgiveness, and yet, I think it was still extremely healthy.  I get very frustrated hearing how many of you go through tragic situations or horrible things and then get pressured by people to forgive the person who wronged you.  The truth is, forgiving may be the worst thing you can do. 

Over the three decades I’ve been on the air, it has been horrifying to hear so many people say that they’ve been pressured to forgive a perpetrator.  I’ve listened to countless stories about families who have turned their backs on victims of crimes like sexual abuse because the victims wouldn’t keep their mouths shut, forgive their attacker, let things go, and get on with life.  There have been many women who have called in saying that they stood up to an abusive husband only to be cut off by their children because they wouldn’t forgive their abuser. 

That’s what makes a lot of people say, “I forgive you” – family members telling them that if they don’t forgive, there will be hell to pay.  Out of fear of being banished or messing up their family, many victims keep their hurt on the inside.  However, this becomes very toxic because they don’t and shouldn’t actually forgive their abusers. 

I say don’t give in to this pressure.  Most of the time, everyone in the family simply wants there to be forgiveness because it will make family functions seem normal.  But there are things that are unforgivable.

Another thing that infuriates me is when people say victims are supposed to forgive as a gift to their offender.  In my opinion, this takes responsibility away from the offender, and a lot of times, the forgiveness serves as a benefit to the offender.  I’ve seen sick things like people put on trial for molesting, torturing and killing children, and the parents say, “I forgive him.”  I just want to take those parents and slap them up one side and down the other.  Why?  Because they are betraying their children, that’s why.  They may be making themselves feel better and look really good, but they are betraying their children.  I find that despicable. 

After the Columbine High School shootings, mourners put flags on a hill with the names of the children who were murdered.  And beside them, somebody decided to put up flags for each of the psycho-creeps who shot them because they died too.  I went on the air that day stating that it was a desecration because showing compassion for evil is showing evil to the innocent.  That was one of the most disgusting displays of phony righteousness I have ever seen.  The parents who had lost their kids had to deal with flags for those creeps placed on the same soil as the ones for their murdered children. 

You should not forgive someone until they have earned the potential for forgiveness.  How do they earn it?  They need to follow the four “R’s”:

1) Responsibility — The perpetrator needs to take complete and absolute responsibility for what they’ve done.  They should not blame it on anyone else, their childhood, bullying, or moon spots.  If it was their own decision, they must take full responsibility for having made that decision without justification or excuses.

2) Remorse — The perpetrator must be truly remorseful.  Most people feel bad because they were caught or had to suffer consequences, however, that’s not true remorse.  The only problem with this step is that no other human being can tell for certain if another is truly remorseful.  People can say it, but we don’t really know what’s in their hearts. 

3) Repair — The perpetrator must do whatever it takes to repair the damage.  Some damage cannot be repaired.  I remember reading a story about a driver who plowed into a group of young people riding their bicycles.  One biker, who was a superior human being and an athlete, had his arms, legs, and just about every rib broken, and his brain would never be the same again.  People wanted the driver to be forgiven after creating a lifetime of torture for this young man.  To that, I say, “No!”

4) Repetition – The perpetrator must take whatever steps needed so that this action is never repeated.

A lot of you folks who simply forgive your drinking or philandering spouse over and over again only give them permission to repeat their behavior.  Don’t be weak. Follow the four R’s.

Everybody who has been hurt has to go through a grieving and healing process.  It often takes a long time.  No one can tell you how to do it or how fast to go.  If someone is obsessing over you not forgiving someone, tell them to leave you alone.

And if someone continues to lay judgment on you because you refuse to forgive what you consider an unforgivable act, send them to me.  There are things that are unforgivable.

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

There was an article in the news recently about a man who returned money he stole from a Sears store in Seattle in the 1940s.  The original theft was between $20 and $30, so the now elderly man returned $100.  The store manager believes the man’s conscience may have been bothering him for the past 60 years.  The store will put the money toward helping needy families.

So I was interested to learn what my listeners have owned up to – even years later – because of their conscience; why they felt it was important to right the wrong and how doing so changed their life.  Below are just three examples. 

I.
When I was a young, very poor child in the 1940′s nearly everything was ‘too expensive’  — even the little rubber balls on a rubber string that were only ten cents at the Five & Dime store.

One summer day I stole one of the little balls. It seemed to be such fun but sadly, my great aunt and grandmother had raised me with a conscience. The ‘fun’ even seemed to be stolen and not so much fun after all.

Years later, in my 20s we traveled back to my old home town. The first thing I did was go to the store and paid back ten fold for the little ball. The manager was open-mouthed at first and then smiled and thanked me.

It was a great feeling. Forgiven and restored. That was nearly 60 years ago but the satisfaction of handing a dollar to the store manager and wiping the slate clean is still with me. – P.

II.
When I was twenty-four, already living on my own, my mom had a hysterectomy. A week later it was her 50th birthday. I was supposed to go to her house, but I wanted to go out with my boyfriend instead. I told my brother over the phone it would be real boring because I’d have to sit around and just hold her hand. My mom was listening in on the extension and started to cry. My dad called me back, told me I was a slut, and he was ashamed of me. I went to my boyfriend’s house anyway.

Years later I told my mom there were things I did selfishly I had regretted ever since, and I mentioned the time of her 50th birthday. I realized how much it must have hurt her and I was appalled at my behavior. She said she forgave me, and was proud of the person I had become; I was a good mom and she admired my strength. I replied, “Every good thing I know I learned from you, Mom.” I think Mom was choked up and couldn’t accept the compliment, but I know my slate was wiped clean and it felt so good.

When she lay dying this past spring, I was sad and upset, but I never felt we had any unfinished business. In every way that matters, I know Mom loved me and knew I loved her. – L.

III.
In high school, there was a kid who was a real easy target for me.  We went to a small school; our class had 20 kids. I was a big kid, had a big mouth and silver tongue, and he was a little slow, didn’t have any friends, and torturing him was a quick way to get easy laughs and make myself look cool. It went beyond simple name calling and spit wads. You could say my friends and I were bordering on psychological abuse. I thought about it every now and then over the years, but just shrugged it off as teenage crap.

This July I went to my 20 year reunion. I was surprised to see him there, in the corner by himself, and, was shocked at the look on his face when he saw me. It was a look of fear and panic. I was made aware in that split second when our eyes met it was much more than ‘teenage crap’ to that guy. I wasn’t a distance memory he could barely recall. He was actually scared of me – 20 years later.

I felt awful. I spent the next hour or so away from my buddies, one-on-one with him, engaging in good conversation, about what he’s been doing and just general catch-up. Unfortunately, life hasn’t been much kinder to him than I was all those years ago.  Just before the dinner started, I leaned in close and said, “There’s something I’ve got to say to you. I owe you a huge apology for how I treated you, man.” He tried to dismiss it and I interrupted. “No, this is important. There was no excuse for the crap you had to endure back then. I have no excuse for the things I said and did, and I was an absolute bastard. I’d like to ask for your forgiveness.”

He studied me for a second, and then got a huge grin with glassy eyes as he put his hand out. We shook, he said he accepted, and appreciated it.

The rest of the evening was great, he had a good time, and his spirit seemed to lift. I’m not sure if that had more effect on me or him, but I’m angry at myself for not seeking him out sooner. All I can hope for is I’ve made it right, and that night was a turning point for him. – C.

I do believe no matter how many days, months, years or decade pass, it’s a good thing to right the wrong.  I’ve gotten so many calls from people having done something they want to apologize for, but it happened so long ago.  Absolutely, send a card, send an email; just don’t text — that’s the least sensitive way to apologize.  But make a connection and say you’re sorry – if you are.  Don’t excuse it, don’t even explain it.  The best way to apologize is to say, “I did _________.  It was wrong.  I regret it.  And I’m sorry for any pain I caused you.”