I remember as
a little girl-seeing my father on bended knee, asking my mom to take him back. He abandoned his family, wife and three kids
when I was three years old. I don’t know what he did to cause my mom not to ever give him another chance. But I will
always remember her calling his tears “fake.” In fact, she called them “crocodile tears.” That was
her way of saying his tears were "not real," and there was "no sincerity in his heart."
You would think
that once he heard “No” he would humble himself. Each time she rejected his advances, he would childishly reply,
“I had something for you, but you ain’t getting it now!” He
would leave in a huff, and go off for a long time, until the next time. Eventually, my father got the message and stopped
trying to come back home.
I never heard
of my father abusing my mother in any way. Leaving her to care for three children on her own was cruelty within itself. I
shared this because I remember her reading his fake remorse so well. It was either what he said, how he said it, or his expressions
that could not penetrate her will. Whatever the case, she would not yield. Of course, as I grew up, I understood why she made
her choice to let him go his way. My “Papa was a rolling stone.” My mother forgave my father for whatever he had
done, but she was determined to move on. Enough was enough!
During the “honeymoon”
stage of violence, abusers seek forgiveness for their awful behavior, and make promises that the violence and abuse will cease.
They regularly offer excuses of “pressure at work”, “a hard life”, or just being “stupid”
at the time of the offense. What they are seeking at this stage is an opportunity to continue the relationship, on their
terms. Reconciliation is completely on their terms, if they have not taken any realistic and lasting steps to correct
their behavior. Lip service to change is not true repentance, and it certainly is not an avenue of correcting
the dark deeds of the heart.
exploit the kindness of a woman’s heart, especially if she is striving to please God. They will play on her spiritual
heartstrings, using forgiveness as a trump card whenever the relationship is threatened with extinction. In order to maintain
control over their victims, the subject of forgiveness is drummed into the hearts of the abused until it produces guilt. Once
the abused feels guilty for being justifiably angry for the mistreatment, their guard is lowered, and the abuser once again
gains a foothold.
for the abuse is usually contrite, yet superficial. Your abuser knows he is wrong for throwing you down the stairs, and he
apologizes so that you will hush up about it; not get the law involved, and forgive him-until the next time. He may even believe
that he will never again hurt the woman that he loves, or claims to love. Somehow he may convince himself that next time,
he will have more self-control. On the other hand, your abuser may view this round of violence as a lesson well learned-by
you. After all, if you just did what he told you to do; he would not have had a need to push you down the stairs. In this
line of reasoning, the abused is always to blame for the violent or abusive episodes.
what about forgiving the fact that he pushed you down the stairs? You forgave him for the time he slapped you in the face;
cussed you out; called you ugly names; mistreated you in front of friends; withheld affection; pulled your hair; killed your
cat. Not only did you forgive him, you made love with him, and gave him your heart over and over again. So why should this
time be any different? What is causing you to really question his love for you? Why are you now struggling with forgiveness
when you have forgiven his abuse all the other times? Why the confusion within your soul?
question how you feel towards the love of your life, and your own feelings. You know something is not quite right, and the
mistreatment is never justified. You weren’t afraid in the past to let down your guard and forgive the many offenses.
But now, you are petrified. You still love the man who threw you down the stairs, and yet you cannot understand why you don’t
instantly hate him for it. You still love him, and wish the relationship could work. But will it? And how many more times
must he cause you physical and emotional pain before the well of forgiveness runs dry?
IS A COMMAND-NOT AN OPTION
The bible makes
it very clear that we are to forgive those who wrong us, if we ourselves expect forgiveness for our own wrongdoing. Matthew
if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you don’t forgive men their
trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Because of the
misconception of what forgiveness entail, many people hold grudges and die with hatred in their hearts. There is a command
in the above scripture, but there is also a spiritual benefit. Forgiveness is more about the one who bestows forgiveness,
rather than the one who receives it. You can forgive a person “seven times in a day,” but that does not
mean they will repent of their ungodly behavior and make a change for the better. In fact, if a person constantly repeats
an unwanted behavior towards you, it may be safe to say, they are doing it on purpose remaining unrepentant.
Our heavenly Creator fashioned
our bodies, and He knows that harboring hate, resentment, anger, and the like causes physical harm. Migraines, ulcers, insomnia,
and chronic pain are just a few of the physical consequences. In addition, when we seek to avenge the wrong that we have endured,
we may find ourselves suffering further pain and heartache that we didn't expect. Rendering evil for evil never
turns out the way we hope that it would. For even though someone did harm unto us, we are still governed by, “Vengeance
is mine saith the Lord, I shall repay,” (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). Avenging ourselves-or our loved ones can lead
to a long jail sentence, or our having to seek God’s forgiveness for being just as wrong as those who wronged us. God
knows how to repay a wrong which leaves us in the clear. When His wrath is executed, no one can escape.