Have You Forgiven?

Paul Buckman.

There is a part of me that hates hearing that name, seeing that name, or remembering that name.

I don’t know if I have completely forgiven him. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do such a difficult thing.

His evil actions have lifelong implications not just for me, but for my children. And if we are completely candid, his actions will have a multigenerational effect.

So what do we do with that?

I remember saying early on in this grief journey that I hated his whole family tree. That’s a little bit harsh, but I do have some righteous indignation for whomever in his family (or friends for that matter) who might have known of previous offenses and kept quiet.

All that being said, I have had to let so much of that go. As long as I continue to harbor bitterness and rage, he is still causing pain and heartache. For the most part, I have had to make peace with some things in order to find peace in new directions.

Have I forgiven Paul Buckman? Clearly he was an evil, wicked, sin-sick man. But what he did is in God’s hands.

I intend somehow to find the place in my heart to let him go completely. I need to. Not for him, he’s beyond anything I can think, feel, or do. I need to for me and for my family.

And based on that, maybe you too will find the words of my friend, Royce Ogle, to be important in your life as well. Thank you, Royce, for allowing me to share them here…

Have you ever heard someone say, “I just can’t forgive her (him)”? Maybe you have said that yourself. I might have said it myself. It’s a purely human response when someone has cause you pain, disappointment, or broken a trust. All of us have been violated in some way by another and have known the pain that ensues. That is true!

What is untrue is that you “can’t forgive” another, no matter how, and to what extent, you have been wronged. People who hold firmly to that position probably do not understand what forgiveness is and how to do it.

Many people, even many Christians, believe they only need to forgive those who ask for forgiveness, or those who apologize for a wrong. That is false. Forgiveness rests solely with you. If you will forgive another is completely your call, no other person is involved.

I don’t know how you have been wronged but you feel that something has been taken from you, an offence has been committed against you, and you deserve something…

To forgive someone is to release the offender from his debt, whatever it may be. The idea is that a compassionate lender tells the borrower he does not have to repay the balance of the loan. He is released from the debt.

To forgive someone is to release the resentment and bitterness you have stored up inside you. You visit there often and feel an emotional rush every time. To forgive another is to gather that garbage and throw it out.

To forgive someone is to treat the offender as if you have forgiven them. It means to sincerely desire the best for them, not the worst.

Forgiveness is a choice! But, it is not an emotional choice, it is an intellectual choice. If you wait ’til you “feel like it” you will never forgive someone who has wronged you. The reason you have decided to wait for an apology is that you want to “feel” better. The problem is you can’t “feel better” until after your forgive, not before. You must make a decision. You must tell yourself “I am tired of being bitter and resentful and I’m going to do the right thing and forgive“. Is it that easy? No, it isn’t easy but that’s the way to do it.

You see, all of your hateful thoughts, all of those things that fuel your hatred and disgust, make you more and more bitter, will not leave you unless you decide they have to go! You make the declaration to yourself “This moment I am forgiving _______ from every wrong against me. I will no longer harbor and encourage bad thoughts about him/her. I have set him/her free from the debt owed and I will experience peace where bitterness and resentment have lived.”

If you can’t seem to do this, start praying for the offender. You can’t pray for someone long and resent them at the same time. If you will to forgive soon your emotions will catch up to your thinking and you will experience peace instead of turmoil.
You don’t necessarily have to even tell the other person. In many cases the other person has gone on with life and has no idea you have been bitter for years. Maybe the person is deceased that you have had ill feelings about so long. Or, it might be an ex-spouse better left alone. You see, this forgiveness thing is all about you, not the other person.

Just try forgiveness. It is like a cool drink of water on a hot day, or a deep breath of fresh morning air. It’s so good for you. Bitterness and resentment can’t live in the same space with forgiveness.

I didn’t tell you that you must forgive others, Jesus did.

Thanks for reading–I love and appreciate each of you!

Les Ferguson, Jr.

18 thoughts on “Have You Forgiven?

  1. Excellent! Occasionally I get involved in mediation and conflict resolution and this is one of the hardest concepts to get people to accept. I don’t know Royce, but I’ve seen him around on various mutual friend’s sites and he has a lot of wisdom. I appreciate him. And you.

  2. Very well said. If we are truly honest, almost everyone struggles with forgiveness. I know I do. And what I have learned is that it can be an on-going, never seeming to end process. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to remind myself that I have forgiven that person….every time those ugly memories invade my mind. But I can tell you that those memories aren’t as frequent as what they were in the past. I admire you, Les, for your courage to release this debt. I don’t think that I could. Thank you for continuing to bless us with your words.

  3. I am not only accompanying you along this journey but you are teaching me valuable lessons as we go! You have a gift of teaching, and I, like you, am learning valuable lessons as we go. Thank you, Les.

  4. Les, I stumbled here from Clara’s blog, having no idea what your story was. After reading a few recent entries, I went back to the beginning, and read every post on your blog. I am experiencing a serious “test of faith” these days. In the past 3 years, I lost my brother, two young cousins, a beloved uncle, and yesterday was the first anniversary of my wonderful mother-in-law’s death. I have struggled so much with questions of why God has allowed so much pain and loss and grief to befall me and my family. My faith has been all over the place! I know I believe, but I am also dealing with so much anger and feelings of betrayal. I just want you to know that reading your words has touched me in such a profound way. So much of what you have said resonates with me. I just wanted to say thank you, for sharing your experiences, and that in doing so, you are helping those like me that are struggling to find our way back to our faith. Thank you so much for putting yourself out there! Wishing many blessings for you and your beautiful family!

    • Thank you, Debra. I am so very sorry for all of your struggles. I feel your pain and understand your anger. Betrayal? I get that in spades too. Our tragedy just keeps coming–the ripple effects seem never ending and I wonder at times why God won’t just fix it all… I keep using the word process. Remember that faith is a process and the flip side of faith is questions, doubt, fears, worry, and frustrations. Let me know how I can help. 🙂

  5. Les, I waited a few days before commenting on this. You’ve presented some deep stuff — real deep stuff. Often, I think we get mixed up in our minds about “forgiveness” and the “pain we experience from loss.” I think it’s easy to quote the words from Jesus saying we need to forgive and pray for our enemy, but in reality it’s one of the most difficult things we’ve been called on to do, if not the single most difficult thing to do. However, I do think it’s possible (in time) and it also brings healing to the soul. Forgiveness in circumstances such as yours becomes a “journey” (I believe) rather than a single “choice thought” of saying, I forgive this molester/murderer.

    My prayers are with you daily as you walk this path of faith. We’re all walking our personal walks of faith in life, and sometimes the walk gets really tiring. God understands. Be kind and forgiving of yourself, also.

    Sincerely,
    Clara

  6. I appreciate your blog. I think the problem I have with forgiveness is that people assume ” If you still feel pain or are experiencing repurcussions from someone else’s choices then you haven’t forgiven”. Then too what about being accused of “the blame game”. as in you are responsible for who you are so dont blame your parents or authority figures in your life for having poor relationships etc. I’d sort of like your take on that aspect. How do we separate the ” I’m this way because I had to do certain things to survive and its so ingrained I dont even know its there – help me ” and the ” I’m this way because something bad happened 50 years ago and I am not going to change ?” Clara If you are reading this I would like you input on this.

    • Shirley, those are mighty good questions. Forgiveness and consequences are two entirely different things. Pain is pain. If you are hit by a person driving and texting–and as you lie in the hospital bed, forgiving the one who put you there does not mean the pain is magically gone. Learning how to forgive grievous emotional, spiritual, and mental injury is a process with back and forth steps–and again, from my book, forgiveness and consequences are two different things!

      As for the blame game, we are always a product of our context. We can rise above it or wallow in it–or, if you are like me, I spend time in both places. Again, it is a process–and that process needn’t be short changed by folks who have not walked in your shoes!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. I’d love to help you more!

      • That helps so much – that its a process and not a once and done thing. I have seen so many shortchanged as you say because people were not willing to “fill in the gaps” of what they missed growing up. It was like “stop blaming and get on with life”. Well for me unless people can take a good look not in an accusing way but a ” this is really what happened” rather than what the “abuser” says is what happened – then healing can start. I think what happens is that people are looking for confirmation not for blame but for ” Is what I think happened what really happened because I have been told what I thought I saw I didnt really see”. Understand that crazy statement?? thats where I see a lot of “lets sweep this under the rug because I saw what happened and wasnt willing to do anything about it” so the child/adult lives in frustration and delayed healing. there’s the sense of never being quite sure that 1. what you see and hear is what happened and 2. that anyone will believe what you say you saw and heard. I hope this makes sense. Just realized that I use that that phrase A LOT because I m just never sure that what I say is understood – is this normal for most people or is it a survival skill that “people like that” develop instinctively ???

  7. First, let me say that Royce’s words are wise and true! Forgiveness is a decision. Forgiveness doesn’t depend upon apology or upon remorse or upon change or upon anything else on the part of the one to be forgiven. True, true, true.

    Now, regarding the following:
    “It’s a purely human response when someone has cause you pain, disappointment, or broken a trust. All of us have been violated in some way by another and have known the pain that ensues.”… “To forgive someone is to treat the offender as if you have forgiven them.”

    Can we also agree that forgiveness and trust are miles apart…even unrelated? Someone can wrong us, and we can 100% forgive them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we will afford them the same level of trust that we may once have.

    Maybe you can elaborate on exactly what “treating someone as if you have forgiven them” really means. I suggest that it doesn’t necessarily (depending upon the offense) mean that you treat them the _same_ as you treated them before the offense. I mean, in some cases that could just be unwise if not unsafe.

    • BTW – I don’t mean to put you on the spot here…I know the words that I quoted above were not originally yours, and I’m not asking you to defend them. I ask for your elaboration only because I value your opinion and because this is without a doubt the biggest struggle that I face right now, and I’ve been wrestling with it for a while now. Forgiveness – I understand; I can even do / have done. Trust – by far, the bigger issue for me. You get the big-question because your timing happens to be right, but no worries if you don’t want to tackle it…I don’t want to tackle it either.

      Love you, bro!

      • Love you, too, Bill.

        Bill, I can forgive without ever putting you in the same place as before. I can choose to treat you with kindness without giving you the keys to my house or truck or SUV.

        There is a vast difference between forgiveness and restitution. Somethings cannot be restored or fixed.
        There is a vast difference between forgiveness and consequences.

        I may forgive you, but if you wreck my truck, the consequence may very well be you don’t get to drive it anymore.

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