Forgiveness vs. Restoration
What does forgiveness mean to you?
Throughout my life I have heard people say that forgiveness is a requirement for Christians, which is very true.
But sometimes the definition of forgiveness gets misconstrued with the definition of restoration.
All people, believers and non-believers alike, have had someone betray them or stab them in the back.
Whether it is a colleague, friend, family member or foe, we all have stories of how someone tried to do us dirty.
If we are not careful, the fact that someone did us dirty could eat at us and become consuming.
In one of his “Madea” movies, entertainment mogul Tyler Perry said that there are people buried in the ground that still have control over people in the land of the living because they cannot let go of a perceived betrayal.
As Christians, we are often taught that in order to receive forgiveness, we have to forgive others.
But people have to realize that forgiveness does not necessarily mean fully restoring the relationship.
Some relationships, whether in the workplace or in a romantic relationship, need to be severed because they are not good for you.
Often God shows you who someone is via betrayal to let you know that that person is not good for you.
That person might hold you back from progressing on the job.
That person might not be the right mate for you.
In those cases, that person should be forgiven for anything that they may have done to hurt you.
But those relationships should not be fully restored.
In the classic 1961 movie “A Raisin in the Sun,” Walter Lee Younger (Sidney Poitier) received money from his dead father’s insurance policy.
Instead of buying a house for his wife, son and mother, he decided to invest in a liquor store with his buddy, Willie (Roy Glenn).
But when Walter Lee gave Willie the money to put down as a down payment on the liquor store, Willie ran off with the money leaving the Younger family still stuck in poverty.
While that type of scam is hard to overcome, if this had been a real life story, Walter Lee should have forgiven Willie and even reconciled with his friend.
But that does not mean that the friendship should be fully restored.
For example, I do not believe Walter Lee should have ever considered going into business with Willie again.
However, Walter Lee should not hold on to any grudges because that would only hurt Walter Lee.
Some people should not be a full part of your life and that is O.K.
Although all relationships do not need restoration that does not mean it is O.K. to walk around with a grudge over some perceived slight.
God is simply not taking everyone with you.
Therefore, leave them behind and move forward.
But some relationships deserve restoration.
The key is discerning which relationships are for a season and a reason and which ones are for a lifetime.
Some people will stab you in the back but will learn from the error of their ways.
If a person proves himself or herself trustworthy again, they might deserve restoration.
On PsychologyToday.com, clinical psychologist Ryan Howes wrote, “It’s evident that many people misunderstand forgiveness. They assume that forgiveness requires making up with the person who hurt you—sitting down with the perpetrator, talking it through, and hugging it out. They believe that forgiveness is the same as reconciliation.
“Truth is, they’re not the same. They’re related, but not the same. Let’s say a good friend does something horrible. She kicks your dog or kisses your date or destroys your reputation. Then she moves out of the country or ceases all contact. Or dies. What happens now?
“Can you forgive? Can you reconcile? My response: You can still forgive. Reconciliation is a separate issue.”
But that’s not a terrible thing.
People often correctly say that forgiveness is for you, not the person who offended you.
If you walk around upset about what someone did to you 10 years ago, that stress and anger would only hurt you.
That anger will not hurt the offending party.
Chances are they do not even know you are mad at them.
If they do know, they probably do not even care.
Therefore, if forgiveness is for you then restoration should be for you too.
If restoring a relationship with a person that cannot be trusted hurts you, why do it?
You can forgive someone and have love for that person.
But you can love them from afar.
We are not talking about people who just made a mistake and hurt your feelings because they had a bad day.
Human beings are flawed and can sometimes hurt you even if they are not trying to hurt you.
We are talking about people who do not have your best interest in mind.
Those people do not deserve restoration.
They deserve forgiveness and reconciliation.
However, you can still avoid them if they bring out the worst in you.
What if you overcame a life of crime or substance abuse?
Your old friend could have gotten you into some precarious predicaments in the past.
But now that you have turned your life around, you can love them but in a socially distanced type of way.
However, even if you distance yourself from a person that caused you pain, if you are still upset about what they did to you, forgiveness has not happened.
Howes wrote, “Holding a grudge imprisons you. Forgiveness sets you free. In fact, the health benefits of forgiveness are so clear, holding a grudge seems self-destructive by contrast.”
As a result, we should always forgive, no matter how awful the offense.
However, use discernment when it comes to restoration.
Some people from our past are not good for our present or future.
But when you leave someone in the past, make sure to leave the grudge there too.