Have you ever struggled with the saying, “forgive and forget”? Have you ever felt like resisting those biblical scriptures where Jesus tells you not only to forgive but to forgive 77 times? Have you ever struggled applying this truth to your relationship because of how deeply your partner has hurt you? I’d like to shed some light on the fact that while to love is to forgive, to keep no record of wrong or pain your partner may have inflicted on you, people tend to misunderstand what forgiveness actually is. I have found that a majority of relationship mistakes are made in the name of forgiveness.

After working with so many couples, I find that the best foundation to lay when they consult with me regarding how deeply their partners have wounded them, is to help them clarify what forgiveness is and what it is not.

#1 – Forgiveness does not mean you have to risk your health or life

Sorry to say but some people are just toxic to your health and mental wellbeing. For example, if your partner physically and emotionally abuses you, that relationship surely isn’t doing your physical and mental well-being any good. Research has shown that these sorts of marriages stay together for many reasons such as “I am not financially stable” or “I love him/her so much” or “I am staying for the kids”. Research also shows that a good percentage of people who stay in such toxic relationships, end up depressed, suicidal, or dead. Please don’t let anyone convince you to stay in such a situation! It is not healthy for you physically, period!

The best thing you can do in such a situation is love them from afar. Remove yourself from that toxic situation. I’m not trying to promote divorce but sometimes the best way to save a marriage is to let a spouse who chooses to abuse you, who chooses to dishonor those marriage vows to protect and not harm you, know that you can survive without them. You are a complete human being created and loved by God! Sometimes, detaching yourself from their abuse causes them to see your value and seek true repentance from you. Forgiveness does not mean you continue staying with someone who does not appreciate or respect you so please don’t do this in the name of “keeping your marriage together”.

#2 – Forgiveness does not always mean forget

So let me bust that myth for you right now. I’m not saying you should NEVER FORGET, I’m just saying sometimes forgiveness means you REMEMBER. If your partner has a history of being unfaithful, you have to REMEMBER that they have to capacity to hurt you in this way so you must remember to question suspicious relationships they might have that might lead them to fall back into that destructive pattern. They need to admit they have been unfaithful to you and get help to eliminate those cheating tendencies. It is ok not to trust someone who has cheated on you even if they have apologized. Part of the restitution they must make is to win your trust back. If you have a mindset of “forgive and forget” you might be setting yourself up for disaster in your relationship if your spouse’s wandering eye is still active. If you realize these tendencies before you get hitched, it is probably safer to NOT get involved until you are convinced that they are no longer prone to this behavior. Also, if your spouse is physically abusive…they need to get help! You are a lot of things and one of them is certainly NOT a punching bag!

#3 – Forgiveness does not mean no consequences for our actions

If your partner routinely breaks the law or if you know your partner defrauds people and remains unrepentant please don’t cover up for them in the name of love and forgiveness. That is not what forgiveness means. Your best bet is to remove yourself from that situation because as I said earlier, they need to get some help in order to make different decisions. And if they value you, your love and the family you are trying to build together, they’ll do whatever it takes.

Let me give you a more serious example. If your partner physically abuses you, please don’t cover up for them and prevent the law from persecuting them for their choice to be brutal. How else are they going to learn unless they suffer the consequences of their actions? And as we all know, violence only escalates so if they don’t suffer any consequences they are likely to repeat the violent behavior and might eventually kill you. So please do what you need to do!

Now I know my message might sound like I’m telling you not to give people a second chance but that’s not it at all. I believe everyone deserves a second chance. But the truth is some people are actually toxic to you and unless you create space between you and them, between you and their actions towards you, you will allow them sap the life out of you.

Ok now all that said, you’re probably thinking, “What does forgiveness mean to ZeeZee?”

#4 – Forgiveness is not about them but about me

For me, forgiveness is not about them. It’s about me! To me, it is the ability to free yourself of the hurt someone has caused you. When someone hurts you and you don’t forgive them, you allow that hurt to live rent free, taking up space in your head. This space can be used to create life for you and the rest of humanity.

So for me, forgiveness is about freedom from the hurt people unleash on you. And how does that freedom happen? A good start is to work yourself to a point where you can actually wish them well. For me, that’s just the beginning of the journey.

#5 – Forgiveness does not have to happen overnight

I see forgiveness as a journey not something that always happens overnight. It might be safer for me to put distance between me and the person who hurt me. I might not be able to talk to them when I’m in this space. But maybe I will be able to, in a few days. In a few months. In a few years. I’m a big believer in the healing power of time. That’s why I see forgiveness as a journey. The first part of the journey is to get myself to a point where mentally I’m able to start wishing this person well. I work my way to this point by spiritual practices like praying for them. Even when I don’t feel like it. I find that asking God for their healing has a way of softening my heart and restoring the peace thy have robbed me of.

We all have so much love to give. If we let hurt linger in our hearts, we reduce our capacity to love. For people who have to end a relationship with the person who hurt them, refusing to forgive hinders your capacity to love again. And that my friends is one good reason we MUST forgive.

I hope I’ve helped shed some light on some of the difficult situations you might be going through regarding your understanding of forgiveness. If you’d like to discuss your specific situation in more detail why not reach out to me?

Walking with you on the journey of forgiveness,

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About ZeeZee

ZeeZee is a certified Relationship and Marriage Coach who believes her purpose in life is to equip couples with the right tools for a successful relationship. Through her website and YouTube channel she shares practical tips and principles that help couples understand the inner workings of a healthy marriage.