Forgiveness and understanding

This came up in a group the other day. The client was struggling to forgive but decided they needed the answer to the “why” before they could. Other clients noted the same thing.

We sometimes do need to know the why before we can forgive, but is it the healthy way? I’m not perfect, sometimes I need to understand before I can move on. But I am trying to change that. Why? Because forgiveness is healthy and if something is preventing health, we should seek to remove it. Sometimes, our need to understand the why something has occurred prevents us from moving on by forgiving.

Don’t get me wrong. Forgiveness and forgetfulness are two different things.

I think about my mother who struggled with alcoholism until her death due to her alcoholism. I struggled for many years to understand why she had done that. It ate me up. When I did, I struggled to understand and come to terms with the way I had treated her as well as all of the years I had spent not forgiving her.

Another way I look at it, is that sometimes we have built up a wall so high, and so deep that we cannot possibly understand. It is during these moments that we do have to forgive in order to break down that wall so that we may finally come to understand.

I think about the verse… He loved us while we were yet sinners.

Can we forgive first before we have to know the why?

Author: Joel Watts

Joel L. Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. and MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014). his latest, Jesus as Divine Suicide, is forthcoming.

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