Certain Christian counseling techniques only look at your fault in any given situation and often minimize or discredit the sins done against you. The assumption is that if you start focusing on the other person’s sin, you will likely fall into the “victim” trap where you don’t take responsibility for your own sin but instead blame others for your problems. This has been taken to the extreme in certain disgraceful occurrences where rape victims are told to repent of their sins.
I disagree with the conclusion that you will become a victim if you are allowed to see what sin was done against you. I believe that recognizing the sins done against you is just as important in healing as recognizing your own sins. If you can’t recognize the sins done against you, then you cannot forgive. Forgiveness always includes full recognition of the sins done against you.
In my book: Forgiveness Fail, I poke fun at myself for a time when I helped a friend of mine recognize all the problems in his life without walking with him through any of the forgiveness stuff. To say the least, it was not helpful.
There is a way to forgive that does not minimize the offender’s sin or let them off the hook while also keeping the hurting one from labeling himself/herself as a victim.
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The premise for my upcoming book – Forgiveness Fail – is that many believers today are authentically trying to forgive, but it doesn’t change anything. They’re still bitter, angry and frustrated. Here’s an excerpt from my book:
I grew up overseas in an Eastern country that is not too favorable of their people converting to Christianity. One of my favorite recreational activities was to “teach” our visiting friends a few helpful phrases. It never worked like I wanted it to, mostly because my mom would come to their rescue. Dad, on the other hand, was probably the one who gave me the idea in the first place. The hope was that my friends and family would stroll around town saying, “I have no underwear,” as a formal greeting.
As soon as they started speaking, it would be blatant that they were led astray. The gag would come to a screeching halt, and they would be forced to creatively discover ways to test their newly acquired words before committing to them whole-heartedly, boldly proclaiming their lack of undergarments while wearing an all-too-friendly smile.
We need to start treating our theology in a similar manner.
We know that the Bible is true, like we know that the language we are trying to learn works. What we don’t know is how to appropriately apply the Bible in a way that produces the correct result. Your theology should work! If your theology doesn’t do what it’s supposed to, then it is wrong.
How can emotions be used to help us with the forgiveness process? Can even the negative emotions be useful?
In keeping with my recent trend, here is another blurb from my up-coming book: Forgiveness Fail: How the Millennial Church can Rediscover a Forgiveness Process that Works.
Anger. Jealousy. Shame. Sadness. Guilt. Fear.
These emotions have been comprehensively labeled as “bad.” Yay for us! I mean, what would we do if we couldn’t feel guilty about feeling… guilty?
I actually don’t believe that any of these emotions are bad. In fact, I don’t believe any emotions are bad, but all emotions (even the “good” ones) can be used wrongly…
…I wouldn’t classify pain as “good” because, honestly, it hurts and I don’t like to hurt. I can, however, recognize that it has an important role to play and I shouldn’t ask God to take Pain away.