Reflection On The Paradigms Of Forgiveness And Boundaries
I’ve been reading Boundaries, by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend, and I really like it. There was one part that really helped me, on page 140. It’s titled, “Forgive the Aggressor.” It says: “Nothing clarifies boundaries more than forgiveness. To forgive someone means to let him off the hook, or to cancel the debt he owes you. When you refuse to forgive someone, you still want something from that person. It keeps you tied to him forever.
“Refusing to forgive a family member is one of the main reasons people are stuck for years, unable to separate from their dysfunctional families. They still want something from them. It is much better to receive grace from God, who has something to give, and to forgive those who have no money to pay their debt with. This ends your suffering, because it ends the wish for repayment that is never forthcoming, and that makes your heart sick, because there’s no hope.
What Does It Mean To Forgive?
“If you do not forgive, you are demanding something your offender does not choose to give. Even if it is only a confession of what he did, this ties him to you and ruins boundaries. Let the dysfunctional family you came from go. Cut it loose, and you will be free.”
The reason I think this is so interesting is because, with a lot of clergy, there’s tons of talk about forgiveness, and they think that that’s going to keep families together. But, in this book, it’s suggesting that forgiveness is a really important step in learning to set boundaries.
Once you think, this person is not capable of giving me what I need. I’m going to forgive them and wipe the slate clean, and not expect anything else from them. Then it enables you to set a boundary, and know that: If I’m not going to expect anything else from him, that he’s not capable of giving, or he’s not choosing to give, then I don’t really want to talk to him anymore or we need to separate or whatever it may be.
Why Is Forgiveness Important?
This is an interesting way to think about forgiveness. The clergy calls you in, and you’re talking to them, and they say, “This is an issue of forgiveness,” you could bring this up, and say, “True forgiveness means that I’ve wiped the slate clean, and I don’t think he owes me anything. So, I’m going to now set a boundary that says, ‘ I’m letting you go. You don’t owe me anything. I wish you luck in your choices. I wish you luck in your life. Goodbye, and I will freely forgive you, now that I can set these boundaries to be safe from you.’”
I’m just mulling it over in my head. I’m not 100 percent sure about it yet. If you guys own a copy of Boundaries, you can look at that section on page 140. Explore your own thoughts on this issue.
How Forgiveness Can Be Helpful
Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is confidential and private and gives you access to group sessions every single day. You’ll get to know all of the coaches that way. Then, if you want to schedule individual sessions as needed on specific topics with specific coaches, then you can do that through individual sessions.
With Mother’s Day, my guess is it was it may be really difficult for some of you this weekend. My heart goes out to you. Just know that I love you and I care about you, and I’m so, so sorry that you’re going through this very difficult time.
There are moments, still, where I lose hope. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night, and I couldn’t go to sleep, because I thought, “What is going to happen? How am I going to do this? I never wanted to be a single mom. I didn’t sign up to be a single mom. This is not the life that I wanted.” When I woke up this morning, I felt a little bit better.
There’s just so many stages of recovering from this. I think I’m doing better, and then I take a step back.
Until next week, stay safe out there.