Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Psalm 51:6. NKJV
1996 was a terrible year for my family and our ministry. We discovered that we had been robbed and slandered by ministry friends. What happened was much worse but most people don’t know about that part. Every morning our feet would hit the ground and we would wait in dread for the next terrible piece of the puzzle to drop. As friends and acquaintances found out, the first question would be, “But have you forgiven yet?” I was 16 when this happened. I’m now in my 40’s and I’m still dealing with the ramifications of this devastating time.
This question, “But have you forgiven yet?” has so many problems. So why is it usually one of the first things we are asked in the Christian community when others find out that others have attempted to destroy us? People do not like horror and pain. Walking someone through the “miry bog” that King David talked about requires uncomfortable truth. A friend of mine told me that cheap forgiveness is a way of sweeping the trauma under the rug. In modern-day terms, it is a form of gaslighting or saying that what happened was not THAT bad.
So what can we do for others when they come to us with devastation? We can sit with them and learn that being uncomfortable is ok. Downplaying wrong-doing is dishonest and hurtful. It can even cause as much trauma or more than what originally happened. God calls us to be image-bearers of Christ. That means embracing both love and truth. It means understanding that forgiveness is a process and does not always involve restoration. It knows that it is not always physically or emotionally safe to hop back into relationships with people who committed evil acts. Love wounded people and love them well.