You know what? They were right.
One friend asked me how was he supposed to love the person who abused children. How could he love those who harm people? What does that look like? Wouldn't that cause more harm than good?
He's right. It would cause more harm than good. I apologize if I came across that way, implying that forgiving people means allowing them back into their lives. It doesn't.
In regards to loving and forgiving, I once received a check list of what forgiving is not. I apologize in advance because I don't know the source.
Forgiveness is not:
- "Giving in" to the offender
- Simply saying to someone, "I forgive you."
- Getting along with the offender
Forgiveness is for my benefit, not the offender's. Forgiveness can help me deal with the situation better than harboring hate. If I hold onto the hate, it will poison me.
Another friend of mine brought up the story of Jesus traveling with his disciples and they were going to stay in a Samaritan village, but because they were Jewish and on their way to Jerusalem, the Samaritans refused to let them. James and John wanted to have fire come down from heaven to wipe out the village, but Jesus simply said that they should move on.
My friend said that sometimes we just need to move on.
Can we call this love? I think we can. If you personally cannot, that's OK, too.
Those stories I told were true in my last post. I will never have any more contact with the man who attacked me. He is in prison and has a no-contact order should he ever be released. Others can deal with him now. He is not my responsibility.
Maybe that's part of it? Sometimes we need to know our own limitations and protect ourselves and our loved ones. To love others can encompass this as well. We should not harm ourselves or others in expressing love.
Perhaps that's a defining attribute of love. If our actions (or inaction) causes hurt or pain to ourselves or others, it is not love.
As I said before, I don't have all the answers, but I want to explore my questions. I am grateful to my friends who took the time to write me and call me and tell me how I was in error.