1. notleia says:

    (Assorted noises of frustration) This is the kind of rhetoric that people use to manipulate other people into letting themselves be taken advantage of again.

    “Forgiveness” has been used to mean “let me walk all over you again” so much that it is a word I do not trust anymore. What if that person sucks, and the best course of action is to not hold a grudge but also hold to your boundaries and not let them get close again?

    I have found Captain Awkward to give far more useful advice about broken friendships and relationships than most sermons on forgiveness I’ve heard. Mostly because she doesn’t imply that you should just hurry it up and get over it, even if you have to repress rather than deal with your feelings.

    • Forgiveness doesn’t mean you can’t have boundaries. People generally shouldn’t be obligated to let someone back into their lives either, but being able to do so without resentment can be a good sign that the problem’s been resolved and that forgiveness truly happened.

      Forgiveness is often a journey, though, not something that people achieve at the drop of a hat. That doesn’t make it less important, though.

      • notleia says:

        I like that narrative better, but that’s not really the one that Boehme presents here. But that’s part of the problem with how meaningless a word that “forgiveness” has become.
        Does/should the concept of “forgiveness” imply not holding a grudge, or does/should it imply that it’s not complete until things go back to the way they were? People equivocate about them all the time, like Brennan making his joke (or joke-shaped object) about conflating my objection to automatic assumptions of unreserved reconciliation to being the same thing as refusing to let a grudge die. (I realize that he’s trying to compete with my being funnier than he is, but on a serious note, that’s exactly the rhetoric that manipulators use.)
        Captain Awkward is still a good resource, tho, like her posts on the African Violet of Broken Friendships.

        • Well, there’s several important details the article pointed out. Number one, Boehme mentioned that her friend asked for forgiveness. Number two, Boehme discussed the sequence of events that made her realize that she still held a grudge. She still cared about her friend, so the only reason she would pull away was if she still held that grudge.

          Given all that in the example, it would make sense for Boehme to describe forgiveness as she did. Forgiving this particular friend would mean accepting her back, because it looks like the issue was resolved and Boehme would still enjoy hanging out with her. This is a completely different scenario than, say, going back to an abusive parent that obviously hasn’t changed a bit. And, she never said one can’t have boundaries. So, maybe she believes that way or maybe she doesn’t. People are more likely to form more nuanced views of forgiveness as they age and get questioned enough.

          Forgiveness does have multiple meanings, just like any other word, so when discussing it it’s probably useful to clarify what one means in a particular case. I’d be curious to know what words you think would be better, though?

          To an extent I have an odd perspective on all this, because I’m all about forgiveness AND boundaries. I also can’t stand being trodden on, but I can put up with a lot of s*** if I decide there’s a good enough reason. I can have a lot of grace with people, but I’m still willing to assert what I’m willing to do/not do, along with finding some way or other to address their behavior. I’m also quite able to care about someone and look out for them even without being around them all the time, so in my opinion it’s certainly possible to avoid someone and still forgive them. But I do realize in many cases people only avoid each other because of deeply help resentments.

          • notleia says:

            It’s lines like this that made me go nope:
            “Forgiveness doesn’t feel like a need to pull away from someone.”

            That might not be the voice of forgiveness, but it could be the voice of boundaries, self-care, or even mere self-preservation, which are still worth listening to.

            • To an extent I agree with you, but it’s important to go even deeper and give honest assessments of those feelings. Am I pulling away because I hate that person(even if they’ve genuinely changed), or do I feel that way because on an instinctive level I KNOW they’re going to keep being awful?(that would genuinely be the voice of self preservation) Am I just not interested in hanging out with them anymore because I’ve found other things I’d rather do instead, or am I actually just trying to punish someone that doesn’t actually need punishment anymore?

              It’s still someone’s choice in the end, as far as who they choose to associate with or do things for, but the hows and whys behind feeling the need to pull away are very important considerations when deciding on a course of action. People can’t/shouldn’t force each other to forgive, either, but that doesn’t mean that the person unwilling to forgive is doing the right thing.

    • I think Jillian said it best: I forgive because I’m forgiven. How would it work if I said, I’m forgiven, but I’m not going to forgive? There’s a Scripture that says, As much as it is up to you, be at peace with one another. It isn’t always up to us. We might forgive, but the other person doesn’t want to 1) change or 2) reconcile. But if we forgive, the ball is back in their court. To switch metaphors, the weight is off our shoulders. We’ve done what we can, so we don’t have to carry any response: guilt or resentment or revenge or anything else.


    • (Assorted noises of irritation) I’ve found the rhetoric you’re using is often used to manipulate others into thinking bitterness and rudeness is justified.

      “Boundaries” have been used to mean “be a dick to whoever you think wronged you,” so much that it is a word I do not trust anymore. What if that person doesn’t suck, and the best course of action is just to let it go rather than hold a grudge in the name of boundaries?

      I’ve found kind-hearted people to give far more useful advice about broken friendships and relationships than most hypercritical internet commenters that I’ve read. Mostly because they don’t imply that you should just hurry up and abandon forgiveness as if it’s unimportant, or useless, or more akin to slavery rather than freeing and emotionally healing.

  2. I’ve found that sometimes a hurt is so deep that you can forgive (and truly forgive) but also realize that the person who wronged you has disable a relationship–and disable it forever. You don’t hate them, hold a grudge, or despise them, but you realize you will never be friends with them. “A brother offended,” the Bible says, “is harder to be won back than a fortified city.” I know people I’m cordial with and talk to, but I know they will never be my friends because of the damage of something they did in the past.

What do you think?