In my daily life of talking about forgiveness and trying to live forgiveness, I run into some misconceptions. Once I had a friend get angry with me, when I talked about forgiveness with regard to a wrong done to her. She thought I was saying that what her offender had done to her was negligible or insignificant. True forgiveness does not make this claim. Another time I was preparing to travel to a distant city with a companion. My primary purpose in going was to absolve someone of the things she had done to me—to forgive her and declare her forgiven. It was such a messy situation and involved deception and numerous people, that everyone knew the story of the offense done to me. Yet even though, I had prepared myself to not bring one iota of accusation against her or her family, my companion’s father still referred to my mission as the trip where Abby’s gonna go make some heads roll. In a worldly way of thinking, I would have been entirely justified and also had the capacity to seek my revenge. But I keep correcting people’s language when they refer to this story and the time when I went to confront my friend. “No,” I say, “I went to forgive my friend and her family.” Forgiveness is not confrontation.
Yet, both of these misunderstandings occur because worldly patterns which influence us give no space for redemptive patterns of response. I was once asked, what does one do when threatened given the fight or flight response schema. I would claim there is room under the fight category for using the adrenaline of the moment to actively resist/diffuse the threat in a redemptive way. But one has to choose into the redemptive gospel first before one can respond against the brainwashed patterns we’ve been taught from the culture.
Forgiveness is not the same as confrontation or a truth seeking session. Confrontation is when there is a forceful presentation of an agenda on some other person(s). In the arena of interpersonal wrongdoings, confrontation often takes the form of one person telling another, what he/she has done wrong. The recipient can accept, reject or amend the agenda. Truth seeking sessions are times of honesty and openness when those who involved in a “situation” gather to discover the truth about their “situation.” Confrontation and truth seeking session both precede forgiveness. Additionally, confrontation sessions tend to evoke resistance, so I don't generally advise them. Instead, I prefer truth seeking sessions. They involve questions as opposed to accusations. Although questions, open-ended or not, can be interpreted from a hostile slant or even placed in hostility.
Forgiveness is not negating/making of no consequence, a wrong that has occurred. The wrong has occurred. Individuals have been affected. Nothing will change that fact. Yet it is the human response to that offending act which render the act counter-consequential or as a generative furtherance of evil. Forgiveness writes the travesty into the script and rises above the effects by actively evoking the Spirit of Christ to transform the story into his grand redemptive narrative. Anger, revenge and acts of self-defamation transform the travesty into many more travesties like a viruses host cell, which has been taken captive generating more an more evils toward the infection of many more.
The consequences of true forgiveness is the unloading of burdens, the disassociation of one’s identity from the hurts, fears and guilts associate with/attached to an action done against you, which served to damage you relationally, emotionally or physically. Forgiveness (the noun) is a miracle (the noun). Forgiving (the verb) is the active participation in extending forgiveness (the noun) toward the healing of the other and the self toward their original created order. This is a miracle.
That forgiveness is possible is a miracle. When one extends forgiveness one extends power toward actualizing a miracle.
Somebody please give me a rule of thumb to go by on the use of affect and effect.