Forgiving someone who isn’t remorseful
“As Christ forgave you, so you also must do” ~Colossians 3:13
I had a friend of mine commented on my testimonial and her comment really stuck out to me. She stated that what got her the most is that one of her offenders never apologized to her or showed any remorse for what she had done. I instantly thought of how hard it is to forgive someone who will not apologize for their offenses nor do they feel any remorse.
I remember seeing my offender a few times as I got older. When I was 18, I was working in Walmart and on my shift one day I was walking to the front of the store and all of a sudden this black man came up to me and with a smug look said “Hello, remember me.” After hearing his voice, chills ran up my spine, I instantly remembered who it was and I responded with “How could I forget.” I was surprised that he even recognized me and thought it was ok to say hello. I also gave him a few other choice words and walked away from him after that. My blood was boiling. I really just wanted to kill the guy, but I was not about to be the one sitting in prison because I decided to take this man out.
I knew this man had felt no remorse and thought that he did nothing wrong. I saw him one other time after that and I was highly intoxicated, I don’t even remember everything I said to him, but I remember I freaked out on him. Once again he acted like he did nothing wrong and said “I didn’t do anything to you.” Right because, I didn’t let you! Had I not fought back you would have completed what you started. Thankfully I have not seen him since then. He could be alive or dead. I kind of wish for the latter.
When a person is not genuinely sorry and refuses to repent for what they have done it may seem like an impossible task to entirely forgive someone. It’s seems easier to forgive someone who is remorseful and admits their faults, but if they aren’t remorseful, should we really forgive?
Psychological studies of forgiveness and unforgiveness point out that forgiveness is essential for the emotional health of the one who forgives. If you have been deeply hurt by your parents for example, and you do not forgive, you carry this hurt throughout your life, inhibiting your own emotional and physical health. For me, I felt so shameful I felt like I had to punish myself by depositing drugs and alcohol into my system. I realized later on after I began my relationship with Jesus Christ that it was stupid. What was I punishing myself for. I didn’t do anything wrong. I just had to learn to forgive somehow because I could not keep living like a prisoner of my past. I had to move forward for myself and my kids and become emotionally healthy or I was never going to make it. The devil wanted to keep me down.
Even after we choose to forgive the other person does not mean that we need to let go of all boundaries and create an opportunity to harm us over and over again. We do not even need to have a close connection with that person despite forgiving them entirely.
We can even reach a stage of forgiveness that we go through entirely without even contacting the other person to let them know we forgive them. I never had the chance to forgive my offender for trying to rape me, but I knew I had to forgive him even if he wasn’t remorseful. God showed me I had to forgive even if I didn’t understand why the offender did what he did.
Forgiveness is also about deciding that you won’t get even and try to take action against the person. Romans 12:19 tells us that “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Of course we may think I’m just supposed to forgive you? That sounds to easy. Shouldn’t they pay for what they did or experience some kind of pain? But God doesn’t say maybe I will repay, no, he says “It is written.” Therefore we can count on God to fix the offense for us and leave the justice in his hands.
Even if the person will not admit what they did or show remorse, you should and can forgive the person. Is it easy. Definitely not. Forgiveness comes slowly and with great difficulty when the offense is great. It also requires a lot of help from the holy spirit. I encourage you to take this to the Lord and ask how you can help forgive this person. When we are reminded of the pain and suffering or a memory pops up in our head we can gain closure by being empathetic and compassionate and saying “I forgive you” Instead of replaying painful words or actions. This prevents unforgiveness from lingering on and affecting not only our present, but our future.
Source: Robert, M.D. (2010). How can I forgive someone who doesn’t admit to having done anything wrong. Belief net.com