Forgiveness is a tough subject for many people. It is frequently misunderstood.
What is the definition of the word forgive? Per Mirriam-Webster, the definition of forgive is 1) to cease to feel resentment against (an offender), 2a) to give up resentment of or claim to requital, b) to grant relief from payment of.
Requital is giving something in return, or in compensation of. This means that when we are in complete forgiveness, we release the person we are forgiving from owing us anything.
In simple language, forgiveness is an act of letting it go, and the ‘it’ in this is anger, hate, malice, and the desire to be compensated for whatever behavior or act we are forgiving.
Forgiveness Initiates Healing
In this blog, we are focusing on the forgiveness of narcissistic and/or emotional abuse that we have been subjected to, which is typically difficult to forgive. Healing, however, becomes obtainable once we release and forgive toxicity.
Non-Forgiveness is Destructive
Non-forgiveness can be harmful. When we do not forgive, we harbor certain feelings and emotions, such as hurt, shock, anger, and frustration, all of which can eat away at our mental and physical well-being.
When we forgive, we release toxicity from our minds. When we forgive, we choose peace.
Forgiveness is a Choice (to Release)
Forgiveness is a choice. It requires thought and action.
Forgiveness does not validate abusive or manipulative behavior. When we forgive, we are not saying that narcissistic behavior is okay, instead, we pardon any or all maltreatments that we may have experienced and we no longer expect anything in return from the narcissist.
Forgiveness may sound like we are giving grace, and in many ways, I feel that is a chunk of it. I believe, both humanely and biblically, that we must love regardless of behavior.
Loving does not mean that we subject ourselves to more abuse, quite the opposite. We give grace, release any hate or malice that we may have held in our heart, which gets us into position to pray for the person, and to be who we need to be as we walk in life (without any bitterness, or spreading of toxicity to others).
We pray because everyone is worthy of healing. Whether or not an abuser heals is not our decision to make. We pray that our response reflects love, but that does not mean that we subject ourselves to harm and/or additional abusive emotional or physical situations.
We give grace because God gives us grace, and we honor each other as human beings regardless of any choices that we have made in life. We give grace out of courteous goodwill.
Notice how grace looks nothing like hate or malice?
Anger and Frustration is Okay for a Time
It is okay to feel anger for a time, and short-term feelings of frustration can be healthy. It is okay to experience these emotions and feelings as long as we do not let them destroy us.
We learn much from feelings of anger and frustration. Both etch into our awareness the need for change in our lives. For example, it could be time to instill physical or mental boundaries. When we recognize anger and frustration in ourselves, we become grounded in reality.
Saying I Forgive You to a Narcissist
If you tell a narcissist that you have forgiven them, they may lash out in anger. They may gaslight you, i.e., “You are crazy!” “You are out of your mind!” “You are the one that needs to be forgiven.” “You are the abuser!”
Narcissists typically do not take responsibility for their behavior, and if they do acknowledge their behavior, they will justify it. So, they do not easily accept offers of forgiveness, and they respond with, “What do you mean you forgive me? I have not done anything wrong.”
If a narcissistic or emotionally abusive person in your life pushes back at your forgiveness, continue to forgive. This means you will continue to heal, and you are one step closer to a sense of peace. It may not happen today, but it will happen. Remember, you must take care of yourself. You have to release toxicity. You must let it go.
Self-Care and Kindness
Another aspect of forgiveness is to allow yourself self-care. You allow kindness towards both yourself and others. But how does this look different than grace?
Self-care is much different than grace in the respect that we must not give so much of ourselves that we run dry. We must remember that we cannot fix another person ourselves. Only that person (and God) can set healing in place if the narcissist confesses to and accept that their behavior is wrong and that they also seek and agree to professional help.
Remember, professional treatment seldom helps a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Read more on this topic here.
If you are codependent, you may lack healthy boundaries. You may fail to recognize that you are not responsible for the happiness of others in your life. This may often lead you to want, or feel responsible for the fixing of others in your life. When you cannot help, it can feel like your vital air supply is cut off. This may lead you to forgo self-care, to completely give everything that you have to a relationship or a person that emotionally is unable to give back, leaving you high and dry with nothing.
Read more about codependency here.
This is a tough situation, but you must let it go. You must forgive. You must take care of yourself. Feel whatever you are feeling for a short time, recognize when you are healing, and peace will follow.
One last, but most important thing — abuse is never right, and abuse is never okay.
Action Step - Prayer Time for Women: "For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." (Matthew 6:14 NIV) Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1 NIV) Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? UP to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." (Matthew 18:21-22 NIV) Heavenly Father, Sometimes, the abuse that I experienced rears up and bites back. I work hard to look upwards and not bend as I feel myself starting to sway here and there in the emotional winds. There is nothing more important in my life than you, Father. I praise you for forgiving me even when I sin. I praise you for loving me unconditionally. Please check my heart for any hidden malice or unforgiveness that may hold me back from healing, and may lead me to sin. Please guard my heart so my response to others is pure and reflects you despite any onslaught or abusive nature. Today, I pray specifically for _____________ . You are the healer, Father, I am only your daughter. It is not my job to fix or heal anyone...this comes from only you. In Jesus' Name, Amen Pray for forgiveness of sins. Pray for strength. Pray for the healing of others. Pray for those that strike against you. Pray for wisdom. Pray for God to clean your heart of any unforgiveness or malice that you may hold towards others. Remember, prayer — seek, knock, believe, and you will find.
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