Monday, January 26, 2015

Faux Forgiveness, Faux Relationships

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently.  –St Paul


Not pedantically nor Pharisaically

Not accusingly or condemningly

Not condescendingly nor contemptuously

But with the gentleness of a loving spirit, we are to go to the individual and do our all to see him reconciled and restored.  

Of course, when the “sin” is against me, I encounter a number of challenges.

Do I, A, give him the cold shoulder and cast him out of my universe; or, B, Do I go and give him both barrels of my anger and hurt? Hmmmm. That would be C: Neither.

Sure. There are cases where I am left with no alternative other than keeping the offending person at a great distance. This step, however, doesn’t come until well after I have done my best to see the individual restored and for us to be reconciled. Rejecting the offender without any opportunity for the giving and receiving of forgiveness makes me an offender. But, in the heat of the hurt, it feels so reasonable and righteous to skip over seeking to sort things out doesn’t it.

Why is it that we so easily throw people and relationships away?

Sometimes it is a case where we are fearful of seeking reconciliation because to do so leaves us vulnerable to more pain. So, we silently hold on to our offenses with their accompanying accusations and condemnations, ready to hurl them in the offender’s face, if he gets too close. Or we place him in the category of Someone I Use to Know, bury the pain of the offense, and walk away, as if that individual never existed. And in doing such things, we now are breaking the laws of love, which says we are to drop everything and go seek restoration. Yes, love does make us vulnerable but it is only with such vulnerability that touching the soul of another and being reconciled is possible.

Another challenge is holding on to our rights. “I have a right to my boundaries.” “I have a right to justice being served.” The rub here is that, if all he encounters is my Rights (aka righteous indignation), the possibility for reconciliation dwindles to almost nothing. But if he primarily meets my love, my commitment to his welfare, my gentleness, the possibilities for restoration increases, exponentially.

Some people choose to circumvent these and other challenges by granting a faux forgiveness. There is no working through the substance of the offense, no seeking to get at the root of the conflict, no bearing of the souls: only a kind of Get Out of Jail Free card that changes nothing and no one, that brings no reconciliation, healing or restoration. How could it be otherwise when the light of truth was never turned on?

Faux forgiveness creates faux relationships. Not exactly what St John had in mind when he wrote, “Love one another,” and, “Walk in the light (with one another) as He is in the light.”

When an individual sins, his repentance must be to the depths of the offense. Light must shine all the way down into the depths of the darkness. Asking for or giving forgiveness for knifing someone in the back as if it were merely a matter of stepping on his toes won’t cut it. In this case, the offended and the offender then walk away knowing nothing changed. And they will continue relating accordingly. Which is to say, not really.  

I think the key to getting all this right, to fully obeying the laws of love in such situations, is seeing that forgiveness is not the goal: restoration is. Once we set our sights on this, we will not be tempted to offer or receive a cheap imitation of forgiveness, because such will never achieve genuine restoration.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2015

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