Most moms agree that forgiveness is an admirable virtue, but some will hesitate if asked whether it’s always wise. The fear is that when wrongs are quickly and fully forgiven, the perpetrator isn’t forced to pay a price, and the forgiver is, in essence, a doormat. But you can forgive others without being walked all over. Here’s how.
1. Forget the phrase “forgive and forget.” Do you need to stop being angry about what your friend did to hurt you? Absolutely. Do you need to develop total amnesia about what happened? Not necessarily. Part of the benefit of relationship hiccups is what we learn from them and how it can improve our relationships going forward.
So your friend betrayed your confidence and repeated to others the sensitive marriage struggles you’re going through—forgive her (for real, not just in theory), but realize that she’s not a good choice as a confidante in the future. By gaining wisdom from your past struggles (in this case, her loose lips), you actually protect and preserve the relationship for the long haul. By choosing not to trust her with sensitive information again, you protect her from her own tendency to hurt your friendship by breaking your confidence.
If your husband has an affair, forgiveness is the only way to restore the relationship and save your marriage. And while true forgiveness doesn’t sit around reading past offenses from the Book of Blame, you can truly forgive (abandon the anger) while still gaining and using wisdom regarding what left your marriage vulnerable to this mistake the first time. True forgiveness doesn’t mean that you can’t put some guard rails in place to protect your husband from future temptation and yourself from excessive worry. Lay down the anger, pick up the wisdom, and move forward.
2. Refusing forgiveness hurts you more than them. Want to really be a doormat? Want to really be a victim to someone else’s wrong-doing or thoughtlessness? Then just hang on to that anger and tension as long as humanly possible. While you’re lying awake at night recounting how you’ve been hurt, she’s probably sleeping soundly, completely unaware of your angst. In your effort to not be mistreated again, you in fact ensure that you are—by yourself.
“Resentment is like drinking poison—then expecting the other person to die.” – Nelson Mandela