Short answer. Hell no! Many of us would like to think that when we say sorry to someone we’ve hurt, that they should automatically forgive us. And not only automatically forgive, but forget it as well. Then, everything will magically go back to normal. I’m here to tell you, friends, that is not how it works.
I’ve known (let’s call her Jane) since I was a small child. Jane and I have known each other for a very, very long time. She is what I would call eclectic. She has her own way of thinking. She is very outspoken about how she feels with little to no regard on how it may make the other person feel. Most of the time it comes from a place of love, and other times I question if she finds joy in hurting people with her words. For the past couple of years, Jane and I haven’t been as close because I believe that she is suffering from a mental illness that causes her extreme outburst and delusions. And when I brought it to her attention, let’s just say she wasn’t happy about it.
So, I’ve been slowly detaching myself from Jane mainly because I’m unable to handle her “outburst” and I don’t think I’m the only one. I am noticing there are a few people in Janes life that feel the same way. Some people are doing what I am doing and slowly detaching themselves; only communicating with her every once in a while. Other people have abandoned her altogether. And sadly, other people only come around her when they need a favor or if she can provide a service to them.
One thing about Jane is that she expects people to forgive her right away after one of her outburst. Her outburst is what many would call indiscriminate expression. Indiscriminate Expression is when someone tells anybody and everybody exactly how they are feeling. It may feel good to Jane when she is verbally “letting off steam”, but this form of expression has the potential to destroy relationships; family, friends, and work.
I for one have been on the tail end of Janes indiscriminate expression and it has broken my heart so many times. I find myself reluctantly forgiving her because I know that she will do it again. But God says that we must forgive because “He [God] has forgiven us” (Matthew 6:14). Also, one thing I must remember is that God loves her just as much as He loves me and if you know God that way that I do, He is really big on loving one another (John 15:12).
Sometimes we don’t like to forgive because we feel like we are letting that person “off the hook” for the how they hurt us. But forgiving has more to do with us, than the other person. When we hold onto hate or hurt, it can rot us from the inside out. In Psalm, David explained that when he “refused to confess his sin, [his] body wasted away” (Psalm 32:3). Plus, it causes anger, frustration, and a number of other negative emotions. Then you may find yourself taking it out on other people that don’t deserve it.
One day, I want Jane and all of the Janes of the world to know that when they hurt someone, do not put pressure on that person to forgive them right away. Just because you have moved on from it, doesn’t mean that person has. It is an unfair expectation. AND if you are a repeat offender, it may be possible that although you’ve said sorry, and that person has forgiven you, they may not want to have the same relationship with you as they did before. I love Jane and I will always love her. I have forgiven her for the hurt that she has caused me, but do I have any interest in rebuilding a relationship with her? Absolutely not!
God says that I have to forgive her, but nowhere does He say that I have to have the same relationship with her as I did before. God doesn’t want us to be doormats to other peoples abuse. Nor does He expect us to immediately forget the pain that was caused. God knows that forgiveness is a process for both parties.
So, if you have a Jane in your life, pray to God to help you forgive them so YOU can have peace of mind because malice and love for Jesus CANNOT coexist in the same heart. And if you are a Jane, pray to God to help guard your lips against any sinful words/actions and to help heal whatever is going on with you that is making you lash out.
Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. -Psalm 141:3
Thank you all for reading my thoughts. Please read my related post Journey to Forgiving Yourself and Please Forgive Me. I pray you are having a wonderful start to your week. I love you all and please remember to pray for one another.
But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. -1 John 1:9