Bob's Basement

Just a short, simple blog for Bob to share his thoughts.

Forgiveness and Restoration

I stumbled across the following article recently, which briefly discusses an issue that our family has struggled with:

How to Extend Forgiveness and Set a Boundary

Without going into too much detail, someone in our family hurt my children; and by that I mean this person really hurt my children – in life-altering ways. When someone injures your children, you want them to be punished; you want them to suffer for the years of pain your children have had to endure. And yet for reasons I cannot explain, this person has never faced justice. We cut this person out of our lives as you would with any other cancer, but unfortunately that is the most that we can do.

That being said, our family is predominantly populated with Christians who want everyone and everything to be "forgiven," and for all of us to get along as one big, happy family. However, since the person who caused all of this pain and suffering has never changed, any semblance of restoration is probably never going to happen, for reasons which should be obvious to anyone who loves their children. But seeing as how it was only my children who were hurt, my wife and I have received countless comments from other family members asking whether we have "forgiven" the pernicious person who is the source of our family troubles. We have assured everyone that we have, which then leads to the questions about why can't our "lives go back to the way they were before all of this started."

First of all, the way our lives were before "all of this started" does not mean that the guilty party wasn't hurting other people; it was just happening to people outside our immediate family, and being swept under the rug because people chose not to see that it was happening. But that is a different problem for a different day.

The problem which currently faces our family is: what does it mean to forgive someone?

For some of our family members, "forgiveness" means a complete and total restoration. But that is a totally naïve sentiment, and it completely ignores or trivializes the suffering of those whose lives were damaged. My wife and I have tried to explain time and again that we have "forgiven" the person who wounded our family, but we have no desire to rekindle a relationship with the guilty party. To other family members this looks like "unforgiveness," whereas to me this looks like "common sense." One should not willingly subject their loved ones to a harmful person in the name of "forgiveness."

This is why I enjoyed the article which I mentioned earlier; in that piece, Dr. Cloud did a great job of summarizing the different parts of a restoration process, which I will paraphrase and adapt to our family's situation:

Forgiveness: This is letting go of what you believe is your right to punish someone for how they hurt you. My wife and I have done so; it was difficult, but holding onto unforgiveness is more harmful to yourself than it is to others. Or as a popular idiom states, "Holding on to unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

Reconciliation: This is when the other person apologizes and accepts forgiveness; this has not happened within our family. In fact, the guilty party is still asserting that he or she has never done anything wrong, and recently demanded an apology for the years which he or she was denied access to our family. With this person's attitudes in mind, any hope of reconciliation is currently impossible.

Trust: This is when you allow a person whom you have forgiven back into your life. This may be a long, slow process, because it involves re-establishing your confidence that the person who hurt you will not do so again. In our family's situation, the person responsible for all of the suffering still insists no wrong-doing, so there can be no reasonable assumption that this person will not hurt someone again. Perhaps he or she will not wound someone in the same way as before, but still – I do not trust this person around my spouse or children.

Bringing this discussion to a close, we need to make a clear distinction between "forgiveness" and "reconciliation" in our lives. When we confuse these actions, we may subject ourselves to further injury. We certainly need to forgive those who harm us, but it is up to the other person to reconcile the situation and to re-establish trust. If the other person is unwilling to do so, then you are far better off without them in your life.


By the way, the following book by Jerry Cook is a good resource for anyone who is faced with difficult life situations and questions about forgiveness:

Love, Acceptance and Forgiveness: Being Christian in a Non-Christian World

Posted: Jul 19 2017, 11:22 by bob | Comments (0)
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Thinking Backwards about the Environment

I mentioned to my wife the other day that the question of ecological conservatism is backwards from a political perspective.

The typical definition of Liberals versus Conservatives is that "Liberals" (who are often called "Progressives") are rushing forward in the name of progress (sometimes foolishly) while "Conservatives" are fighting hard to preserve what is already there (sometimes like a stick in the mud; just as stubbornly and just as stupidly).

These two points of view will often fight vehemently against the other on issues simply because they feel that they "have to disagree," and not because they actually disagree. Preserving the planet is one such example - I think that most of the arguments that I hear from one side or the other are more often about disagreeing with the opposing position than about the actual issue.

But here's where it gets really strange: when it comes to saving the planet, somehow it is the "Liberals" who want to conserve, and it is the "Conservatives" who are rushing forward in the name of progress (often foolishly) and irrevocably damaging the planet.

But there's an interesting wrinkle in this debate which is often overlooked within the church: many Christians are Conservatives, and as such they join their fellow Conservatives when it comes to fighting issues like ecology. But according to Scripture, Christians have been charged with taking care of the environment, so they should really be trying their best to preserve the planet. So why do most church-goers seem to be fighting against environmentalism?

As I mentioned initially, this whole situation is inexplicably backwards; it just doesn't make sense to me.

I'll get off my soapbox now...

Posted: Aug 14 2013, 16:20 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Bad Christians

I recently saw this video: http://youtu.be/vnJBW49afzg

Let's put this in perspective - a group of self-professed 'Christians' shows up uninvited to a Muslim Arab Festival, where they are confrontational to the Muslims and insulting to the police, and they are carrying signs with slogans like "Repent - your party will burn in the lake of fire (01:14)," "Islam is a religion of Blood & Murder! (03:26)," "Be not believers in drunkards, whoremongers, idolaters, sodomites, fornicators (04:30)," "I am truth and the life - all others are thieves are robbers (04:30)."

No - this was not an act of random violence by a group of Muslim extremists who were targeting an innocent group of Christians; this was a deliberately-staged set of contentious actions by some very unbalanced people who claim to be Christians in order to provoke the very attack that transpired. These otherwise peaceful Arab-Americans were enjoying a day of celebration of their faith and heritage, and these so-called Christians showed up and behaved in an extremely insulting manner, shouting insults with a megaphone and slandering the Muslim faith - these 'Christians' might just as well have been Nazis based on their behavior. The police were 100% correct is telling these fools that they were the cause of the trouble.

Let's reverse things for a moment - let's say that you were a Christian at a peaceful church gathering when a group of atheists showed up to protest by using a megaphone to hurl insults at your religion and they carried signs that proclaimed that Jesus was a drunkard & whoremonger who was the illegitimate son of unwed slut, you would be more than a little offended. You might not personally react with physical violence, but if you had a few thousand Christians in one place when a publicly-outspoken group of atheists or Buddhists or Hindus or Muslims showed up and behaved as provocatively as these 'Christians' did, I can 100% guarantee that someone would eventually lose their cool and start throwing things.

This video is a perfect example of how Christians should NOT behave, and they are certainly not following Christ's example. This is not a question of exercising freedom of speech or freedom of religion - this is a question of exercising good judgment and Christ's love; this group of 'Christians' exhibited neither.

Self-professed 'Christians' like those in this video should be ashamed of themselves.

Posted: Jun 27 2012, 10:07 by bob | Comments (0)
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