I was not going to blog about the Duggars – mostly because, besides seeing a few minutes here and there when flipping the channels, I have never watched their show. While I’m sure they are nice enough people, I disagree with a lot of their beliefs and philosophies (and no, I don’t have anything against large families – I promise!).
While I can say unequivocally that Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar did not handle the issues with their son the right way, as a parent, I can empathize. I would be heartbroken and scared and sickened if my son had to be put into JDC over these behaviors. I’m sure there would be a big temptation to hide it, especially if my church gave me tacit approval to do so.
I can also say that my heart breaks for the victims in all this. With all the attention of the media, they are being victimized all over again. I wouldn’t wish anyone, never mind the innocent victims, to have to walk through something like this in the glare of the media because let’s face it – the media doesn’t really care about any of the victims. They care about a juicy story.
Ultimately, I don’t know all the details of what happened. I did read the police report, but nobody really knows all the ins and outs of this except the Duggars themselves. I don’t know if Josh Duggar truly repented and changed his ways. I pray that he did. I don’t even know as much about the Duggars as a lot of people because I never watched the show.
The only reason I AM blogging about the Duggars is because I think this story brings to light some major misunderstandings of what forgiveness is and is not.
Let’s start with what forgiveness most definitely is NOT.
Forgiveness is NOT saying what someone did is okay. In no way does forgiveness gloss over real wrongs and hurts. In fact, the first step to truly forgiving someone is to acknowledge the hurt and pain their actions caused.
Forgiveness is NOT denying all negative feelings. In the Bible it says to “be angry and sin not.” Read the Psalms – David had a lot of negative feelings. Jesus overthrew the money changers’ tables. There is a lot of emotion in the Bible, and it is not all of the sunshine and smiles variety either.
Forgiveness is NOT giving someone a free pass, especially if what they did was illegal, hurtful or destructive. I can forgive you, but that does not mean that you will not be held accountable for your actions. Canceling out all consequences, all the time, is not healthy, and, ultimately, it is not loving.
Forgiveness does NOT mean the relationship will be the same. Forgiveness is something we can do without any participation of the other person; however, reconciliation is not. That takes both parties. The Bibles says to “Be at peace with all men, as much as you are able.” (emphasis mine). There is a vast difference between being sorry and being repentant. Repentance involves confession (agreeing with God that what I did was a sin) and then turning away from those actions and going in the opposite direction. Without true repentance, restoration of a relationship can’t happen. Being sorry usually involves a lot of words, but repentance involves action.
SO WHAT IS FORGIVENESS?
Forgiveness IS a choice. It is not a feeling. We can actively make the choice to forgive even if we aren’t feeling it. If we wait until we feel like forgiving someone, it probably isn’t going to happen. Sometimes, it is a choice we have to make more than once – even daily in some cases.
Forgiveness IS a command. God does not say you should probably forgive people. He commands us to – BECAUSE He loves us. God knows that unforgiveness is not healthy for us. I love this quote: “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (author unknown). Hanging onto unforgiveness is a one way road to bitterness,and bitterness eats you from the inside out.
Forgiveness IS a process. That being said, God doesn’t just leave us to do this forgiving thing on our own. He doesn’t expect forgiveness to be like flipping a switch. It can require going through many layers of emotions to get to a real and lasting forgiveness. He loves us enough to walk through that process with us.
Forgiveness IS ultimately, a leap of faith. We have to trust that God is the perfect judge, and we have to leave our rights in His hands. We have to leap into the undefined space of forgiveness, trusting that we will land – not in a squashed heap of pain – but whole and able to walk.
Have you ever had to forgive something that seemed unforgivable? I’d love to hear how God walked you through it!