• Is Conditional Forgiveness Still Forgiveness?

    Please note that I wrote this blog post weeks ago when I was thinking about the concept of forgiveness, and in a lot of ways, the forgiveness of self. It was written prior to some of the atrocities that have recently happened in our world. I am, in no way, suggesting victims, their families and our society must forgive heinous acts at this point in time.

    I was recently talking with someone about the deep relational chasm forming with her mother-in-law. Once this person had her baby, her mother-in-law started criticizing her parenting style. Oh, boy. From what her child eats to how he’s disciplined has became a fierce debate and power struggle. Of course the daughter-in-law, wanting to keep a semblance of peace politely told her she needn’t worry. Unfortunately the mother-in-law hasn’t given up. Over two years, my acquaintance stated things have gotten so bad she has a visceral, negative physical reaction when she’s in the same room as her husband’s mother.

    She’s now working with her therapist on techniques that will eradicate some of the harsh feelings that well up inside of her any time she’s in her mother-in-law’s presence. Thankfully she instinctually knows trying to make the relationship work (if only from her side) will make her own life more fulfilling. She’ll have an incredible relationship with her son and an intact marriage. Forgiveness is a huge piece of this puzzle, but forgiveness doesn’t come so easily to the rest of us.

    In my own family dynamic, apologies were rare and forgiveness was even rarer. While I’ve had to unlearn this false data, growing up it was considered a strength to be indignant when wronged; rarely apologizing and certainly not forgiving. Forgiving meant giving power to the offender. Conversely you as the victim are perceived as weak, head hung low offering an olive branch in hopes of acceptance.

    I recently watched the viral video of a child who had survived the holocaust at the concentration camp Auschwitz. If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it here.  I usually don’t watch videos…but this. This story was profound. It is unlike anything I’ve seen or read on the subject. This woman, Eva, suffered unspeakable atrocities. Yet, as the years passed Eva realized forgiveness as an active process was critical to her well-being. The perpetrators of these heinous acts continued to brutalize her long after WWII was over. She then realized forgiveness was necessary to be FREE of their victimization. She was emboldened; empowered for the first time in her life. You can see it in her spirit and you can see it in her eyes. She is peace.

    Even now, when we understand the power of forgiveness, we’re conditional about it. For instance: I can forgive the person who cuts me off in traffic, but I can’t forgive someone for abuse. How inspiring to know that a woman in her position has the power to forgive unconditionally. As a result, she was absolutely cleansed. She wasn’t on bended knee, looking feebly up with her olive branch. It didn’t weaken her, nor did she falter. This amnesty eliminated the misery in her tormented heart, giving her more power than she imagined.

    It’s a pretty simple question, but if Eva can forgive, can’t we all? From maniac drivers, to in-laws, to anyone who has scarred you to your core. Here’s a thought: how about forgiving ourselves? Eva’s message of forgiveness has inspired me to start cleaning house in my own heart. Making sure even the smallest dust bunnies are eradicated. It’s a process, for sure, but one that suits us better than harboring resentment and hostility.

    Time to roll up my sleeves.
  • Comments on this post (4 comments)

    • Wendy says...

      This speaks volumes to my soul! So beautifully put!!

      January 15, 2018

    • Teri foltz says...

      I shared this on my FB page. I’m so proud of you!

      December 17, 2017

    • Lane says...

      Well said. I’ve had the opportunity to see the “Eva video.” She is a remarkable woman.

      October 17, 2017

    • Jay Freeman says...

      Beautiful-and very powerful! And that video-I had not seen it but OMG…incredible!

      A typo needs correction… on “bended” knee, not “blended “ … and “bent” would be better choice ?

      October 17, 2017

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