Sunday, September 23, 2007

Forgive or Else?

A grew up under the assumption that forgiveness is a choice. It is the advised course of action for many good reasons, but you can't hold someone at knifepoint and force them to forgive someone else.

Certainly if you've done something to someone else you can't force them to forgive you. All you can do is be sorry and try to make it right, when possible, yes?

So I have to say that it baffles me the number of people who insist that I have to forgive them. It's happened before and it happened again last night. I was on aim and got a message from an old roommate who told me I had to forgive her for what happened (she stole some of my stuff and some other people's stuff and said I manipulated her into doing it) because she'd learned to forgive herself.

I haven't really thought about her or the events in quite some time. I suppose that really I forgave her a long time ago. But her demand that I bury the hachet made me want to tell her exactly where she could get off. I didn't, I told her there were no hard feelings - because there aren't. But whatever happened to asking for forgiveness?

No, "Will you forgive me?" or "Can you forgive me?" or "Please forgive me," just, "You have to forgive me."
Do I? I should. It's healthy. Do I owe it to the person who's hurt me? Can they demand it?

Another friend in college had been a huge jerk for months. I'd finally talked to him about it - he was horribly sorry, yada, yada - but when I wasn't a-okay in the next couple days he got angry with me. I wasn't angry, but I was still quite hurt. He told me that wasn't acceptable, he couldn't keep feeling bad about what he'd done - he had a paper to write and I had to forgive him & forget about it.

I've encountered other variations on the demand, "You can't ignore me," "You have to spend time with me," "You have to understand," "You can't not trust me,"...I'm sure you can come up with others.

Who told these people they were entitled to any of these things? I guess I find it particularly offensive because I would be traumatized to even ask for any of these thing. I hope people won't ignore me, I hope they'll spent time with me and try to understand my quirks/issues, I hope they'll find me trustworthy...but how could I even ask it of them? Isn't that their choice? Isn't that something people will decide on their own based on how they percieve me? Shouldn't I leave that up to them?

What, if anything, do people have the right to expect from other people?

4 comments:

Emily said...

If someone has hurt or offended you in some way, I believe the biblical thing to do is to release the offense to God. Basically say, "I'm hurt, God. But I know I shouldn't do anything to get back at him. And really, it was ultimately against You." Then gently go to him, expressing your thoughts/feelings. Basically ask for an apology. But don't force it. If he won't give it, pretty much leave it at that.

On the flip side, if you offend or hurt someone, you should ask God and the person for forgiveness. If the person won't accept, don't force it.

The idea is, if you are holding a grudge against someone or have hurt someone w/out asking for forgiveness, your relationship w/ God is hindered and your prayers aren't as effective.

For more indepth, there's a great book called Forgivess: The Power and the Puzzles. Do I always follow this... unfortunately no.

ktismatics said...

I was just discussing forgiveness with someone who believes the offending party has to earn it. Meanwhile he gets his revenge by being mean to the other person. I suggested that if he voluntary forgives her, then he can keep being mean to her forever without worrying about whether she's had enough payback. His meanness becomes his free gift to her.

Melody said...

Uh-huh. Weeeell, maybe I'm not in favor of eternal meaness towards the person - I just don't think the offender should be able to dictate the terms under which they are forgiven.

ktismatics said...

Well, you'll have to admit I offered him an alternative viewpoint.

 
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