Christians, how do you work on shame and forgiveness for self?

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Bouncing off another shame thread, to keep that one on topic, I'm opening my own.

I recently opened the relgious door that I've been keeping in a locked box in my mind. Pretending to myself to be atheist but that wasn't true. I don't know what I believe at the moment. Sorting that out. But what I did was take all that relgious shit, shoved it in a mental box, closed and locked it tight and dared to not go near it and then told myself I was atheist. Didn't even let my therapist go near it.

Anyway, ended up watching a relgious movie on accident on Amazon video and that got me thinking. Googled a local church, found a site with an email for the head pastor and emailed him. And thus, here we are. The pastor and I talk almost everyday (except for Mondays on his day off) through email and we meet every Wed for an hour. And we are attacking several things at once. Trying to untangle this relgious mess created by the cult. Redefine terms and core beliefs. Things I didn't even know were an issue until now. And expose me to things I fear the most. Churches and relgious people. Especially relgious women.

Anyway, I think that's enough of a back story of why I'm even thinking about this. But he and I have spoken quite a bit about forgiveness. I had ditched the idea of forgiveness and instead focused on acceptabce but this relgious stuff I'm facing head on brought forgiveness back up. This pastor made an entire sermon series (3 sermons) based solely on my questions to him. He named it "Why does god care who I have sex with". And during that I kept saying to him (giving feedback during the sermon series) mention the traumatized. Just a slight mention. And he kept saying "Im not mentioning it because those traumatized did nothing wrong and don't need to be forgiven" (talking about rape and such) and we've spoken about it a lot since. Can I forgive my perps? Nope. Not even a little bit. But can I forgive myself? Still nope, not even a little bit. And maybe even harder to forgive myself then it is to forgive my perps. Cause I did things unprompted, that traumatize people. I did things, yes, under force, but that I don't think deserve to be forgiven.

So. I ask those of faith, how do you approach the topic of forgiveness? Both for your perps but also for yourself? If I'm going to buy into the idea of sin, then shit, I got a lot to answer for. I still don't get the dying for sins part and REALLY struggle with animal sacrifice before Jesus died but ideas?

I'm on the churches family Facebook page and post a lot of questions there but I think this question belongs here as It's about trauma and the results of trauma inside of a faith based idea.
 
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Teamwork

MyPTSD Pro
It’s a trauma issue still. I am from a background of religious abuse and got the most insight from the reading the deconstruction of your faith work. Basically I had to figure out what forgiveness means to me. As well the root that needs work is the trauma, before you can do the forgiveness. Otherwise you start feeling like if you forgive then what they did was okay, when it was not. I’ve learned that forgiveness is something I say to God in prayer as an act of letting the person go to be dealt with by Him as opposed to me and to be liberated from any ties to the person. Only God knows my heart and my attempts to forgive have their own set of feeling, like grudgingly saying it to eventually just saying it and being at peace. Were they still horribly amiss in what they did to me? Yes, but I’m only responsible for healing from it, doing the work on that and I’d rather not be held responsible for withholding forgiveness from another person given I’ve been forgiven of much. In many respects it is an act of faith. We don’t see what god does with it or know if the person feels it given mine were never verbally told by me to their face. Does it help, yes. The freedom from it is that we can truly move from that piece into just ourselves and the healing work. It’s as if a part of them that was tied to us gets severed. It is never about forgetting or letting them off, its more about truly letting them go. I hope I’m making sense?
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
Something I try to keep in mind is that there are a lot of people who call themselves "Christian" but watching their behavior makes it look like they never read the book. If you go back and actually read the scriptures for yourself, Jesus was pretty cool, even though a lot of stuff has been twisted by people for their own use in the days since.

Here's how I understand "forgiveness". Years back, I had a good friend and mentor named V. He was a veterinarian and that was a career I wanted too. After a lot of struggle, and with his help, I finally got into vet school. Around that time, he was diagnosed with ALS. The last time I saw him was right before I started school. He advised me to sell my horses and move into town and focus on school. Off I went, intending to stay in touch & all that.... It was at a time when there wasn't financial aid money available, even though I qualified for a lot. Couldn't borrow the money I needed, so I was working basically full time while trying to go to school full time. Didn't sell the horses and move into town. (They were kind of the only family I had at the time.....) At the end of the first quarter, I was .2 of a point below the cut off to stay in school so I flunked out. I never had the guts to tell V and didn't go see him because I didn't want to lie to him OR tell him the truth. A few months later, he died. Several years after that, it dawned on me that the worst thing I did by not going to see him was I didn't give him the chance to forgive me. And he WOULD HAVE. He was my friend. He cared about me in a way that was non-judgemental. He would have been disappointed, yes, but for ME not for HIM. He would have forgiven me and I didn't give him the chance.

The way I see it, God is like that. God is an entity that wants the best for everyone, but knows people are people and can be pretty disappointing at times. God is love. God would want the best for everyone, and be disappointed sometimes, but would want people to realize their mistakes and ask for forgiveness so it could be granted. The hard part, at least to me, is that a fair God would want that for EVERYONE. So, on some level, I need to accept that even the Hitlers of the world are entitled to the same sort of forgiveness I want for myself. And poor old God is out there wishing they'd ask for it. They probably won't. That's their choice and God lets them make it, you know?

For myself, I find that the hardest thing is to FEEL forgiven. It's one thing to believe, intellectually, that something is forgiven. It seems to be a lot harder to actually feel that it's true.

Good for you for taking this on BTW! This minister sounds like a good guy. Glad of that too because there's a bunch of them out there who aren't. (Kind of like therapists now that I think of it!)
 

AMusingChickadee

Not Active
Bouncing off another shame thread, to keep that one on topic, I'm opening my own.

I recently opened the relgious door that I've been keeping in a locked box in my mind. Pretending to myself to be atheist but that wasn't true. I don't know what I believe at the moment. Sorting that out. But what I did was take all that relgious shit, shoved it in a mental box, closed and locked it tight and dared to not go near it and then told myself I was atheist. Didn't even let my therapist go near it.

Anyway, ended up watching a relgious movie on accident on Amazon video and that got me thinking. Googled a local church, found a site with an email for the head pastor and emailed him. And thus, here we are. The pastor and I talk almost everyday (except for Mondays on his day off) through email and we meet every Wed for an hour. And we are attacking several things at once. Trying to untangle this relgious mess created by the cult. Redefine terms and core beliefs. Things I didn't even know were an issue until now. And expose me to things I fear the most. Churches and relgious people. Especially relgious women.

Anyway, I think that's enough of a back story of why I'm even thinking about this. But he and I have spoken quite a bit about forgiveness. I had ditched the idea of forgiveness and instead focused on acceptabce but this relgious stuff I'm facing head on brought forgiveness back up. This pastor made an entire sermon series (3 sermons) based solely on my questions to him. He named it "Why does god care who I have sex with". And during that I kept saying to him (giving feedback during the sermon series) mention the traumatized. Just a slight mention. And he kept saying "Im not mentioning it because those traumatized did nothing wrong and don't need to be forgiven" (talking about rape and such) and we've spoken about it a lot since. Can I forgive my perps? Nope. Not even a little bit. But can I forgive myself? Still nope, not even a little bit. And maybe even harder to forgive myself then it is to forgive my perps. Cause I did things unprompted, that traumatize people. I did things, yes, under force, but that I don't think deserve to be forgiven.

So. I ask those of faith, how do you approach the topic of forgiveness? Both for your perps but also for yourself? If I'm going to buy into the idea of sin, then shit, I got a lot to answer for. I still don't get the dying for sins part and REALLY struggle with animal sacrifice before Jesus died but ideas?

I'm on the churches family Facebook page and post a lot of questions there but I think this question belongs here as It's about trauma and the results of trauma inside of a faith based idea.
Hi @lostforgottensoul ❤️

I was very inspired reading what you’ve written here - how this phase of your journey unfolded and the questions you are asking. I think it’s beautiful that you are thinking on this stuff. I love what others have posted here as well. I hope I remember everything I want to say. I may jump around a bit - thoughts are a little foggy today - apologies in advance!

I struggle a lot with feeling a sense of community, fellowship, closeness with other Christians - even if feeling strong in my faith otherwise. It’s a problem with people in general, not just Christians. I have experienced some “church hurt” and seen many others experience the same. I’ve seen so many people leave the church, reject their faith, see the behavior of other Christians as a reflection of God. My heart hurts remembering these times. I feel bad saying this, but I have a general disgust for most of humanity. Somehow I also care a great deal about people and their welfare, and I love to help others, but I think it’s more about not wanting myself to be vulnerable to being helped and hurt by them. I have let some people in a bit recently, but I can still feel I hold them at arm’s-length. Anyway, I know we’re social creatures and not meant to live in a bubble. I know God wants us to love each other. Still, every time I imagine Community, my first reaction is not looking forward to it and immediate mental/physical drain. It’s something I’m working on.

At one phase, it helped me a lot to try to separate my own feelings about God from my feelings about other Christians. For example, I didn’t want to feel like I shouldn’t believe things just because I saw other people appear “righteous” in church and then resume such meanness as soon as they exited the doors. That’s not God; it’s humans. God doesn’t want them to be like that. It did stop me from attending church for a while, but I’d pray alone at home. Recently I’ve been thinking on this again, regarding the careful balance between finding the right church fit vs. jumping ship trying to find a church that is devoid of human nature. I guess I’m trying to recognize that nothing involving humans will be perfect. I suppose we attend church to try to learn how to be better. Also that maybe in the right church I can help make changes if I think something’s missing. I’m still working on this. I’m very resistant to getting involved too much.

Re: forgiveness. I think we often think of forgiveness as “forgive and forget”, and for me I think they don’t always go hand-in-hand. I don’t think reconciling with someone, resuming a relationship, or even talking to them at all is required in order to forgive them. Others here have more eloquently said, I think forgiveness is a release - both for them and us. It’s like letting go of the need to regain some control in the situation (since we may have felt helpless then) and to finally have our “why”s answered. I think we want things to make sense before we can let them go, and unfortunately some things just will never make logical sense as much as we try to get them to. I think that’s how we end up blaming ourselves, because we convince ourselves that we were at fault, had ability to do something different to prevent it. We think it’s the only thing that makes sense. When we can’t find the answers, sometimes our brains make some up. We know we can only control ourselves, not other people’s actions, so we end up making ourselves responsible for everything when the other people aren’t remorseful or we can’t get justice. We blame ourselves, even when it hurts us more.

I do find some peace in the idea that I can let go of the poison and let God/fate/universe/however one wants to think of it deal with the person. Maybe we’ll never see the outcome. Maybe we see them continuing to live “happy” lives, while we are stuck with the aftermath. I used to want the people to be punished, but that didn’t erase my pain, so now I find more comfort in praying for them. I’d like God to change their hearts and actions and heal them, so they can have a better purpose. I try to remember that they were made in God’s image too, even if they reject that or do bad things. I would like them to change their lives around so that they can experience genuine joy and have a chance to have a peaceful afterlife. In the end though, whatever happens or doesn’t happen to them… what happens to me is where my focus needs to be.

I don’t necessarily need to tell someone I’ve forgiven them. But sometimes I do, if I’m trying to offer someone closure or want to continue a relationship. For those that are harmful to be around, I offer it to God instead.

I “forgive”, but particularly in abusive situations I don’t “forget”. I don’t forget, because I want to make sure I’m still protecting myself and learn from the experience. I don’t forget, because I want to use it to help others if I can. I strive to “manage” it instead. I do try to forget in relationships where someone has offered a real apology and taken steps to change.

Self-forgiveness is harder for me as well. I kind of see it in steps, like most things. I think one is grasping a sense of our worth. I believe that each of has worth merely by existing. We leave a little footprint and ripple effect everywhere we go, whether we try to or not. Perhaps you smiled at a stranger in the grocery store and had no idea that one little gesture saved their life that day. Maybe they then went on to help someone else. We are all connected, even when we don’t feel it. You just writing here has impacted me in a great way today, so I really want to say thank you!

I don’t mean to say that our actions define our worth. Everyone has basic rights. You are enough exactly as you are, with all your strengths, quirks, and choices. No one can take your core away from you. Traumas change us - we may not recognize ourselves - but our value is a constant. Even when we don’t see it, it’s there. Like air.

You are human. We all have things we regret. You show your true character by the introspection and thoughtfulness you show here. So many people go through life acting without caring or ever looking within.

Perhaps before feeling self-forgiveness, we must first have self-compassion. What if a friend or another person in your exact situation denied themselves forgiveness? I think we’re often kinder to others than ourselves. Speaking for myself, I’ve often said: “But I did this…”; “The difference is…”; “I should have…” - as if I’m some exception to the rule. Like everyone else deserves kindness but not me, because if only everyone could see how truly awful I am. The common denominator of my traumas. It’s not true. There are no outliers. I don’t need to know you offline to pick up on the parts of you that shine through here without you realizing it. Perhaps something I ask myself might resonate with you: “I don’t like looking back on the situation with what I know and feel right now, but I did the best I could with the information and resources I had in a very difficult moment.” We can come up with all kinds of self-shaming ideas of what we could have done differently, but we don’t know for sure how they might’ve changed a thing, or if something even worse may have happened. I know sometimes the quick choices we had to make that cause us to feel ashamed probably in fact saved our lives, as conflicting as that is. Freezing, fawning - they are quite literally survival techniques for our bodies and minds.

Gosh, I’m sorry this is so long and disorganized. I hope maybe something in it makes sense or helps in some way. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
 

AMusingChickadee

Not Active
Also (sorry! 😣)

There is a lot I don’t understand about dying for our sins either, if I’m being honest. I don’t know if the human brain is capable of completely understanding the mysteries of God. What I think I understand about previous animal sacrifice is similar to rules about preparing food, what not to eat, etc. I think it was hard for people to understand supernatural things then. They didn’t know science of things like weather, germs. They thought gods were responsible for every little thing that happened. They knew whatever was a part of their daily lives. I think they would sacrifice an animal as a way of humbling themselves to give up something that was essential to their survival? The only way to show that there was a higher power more important than them? In the end though, I think instead of truly humbling the spirit, it became a ritual. A box to check. I think that’s why Jesus stopped that and tried a different way - using stories, miracles, and himself as an example to reach a different level of personal understanding? That there’s more to life than simply meeting our own needs? Not sure if that makes sense.
 

lostforgottensoul

MyPTSD Pro
Good for you for taking this on BTW! This minister sounds like a good guy. Glad of that too because there's a bunch of them out there who aren't. (Kind of like therapists now that I think of it!)
Thank you! Facing this head on is the hardest thing I've done thus far since being in therapy! It is truly so very hard. But I'm making progress one micro step at a time!

And he truly is amazing! First pastor I've ever talked to that truly does not judge or get upset or get frustrated. He is so very understanding and for someone that has never worked with the traumatized like this, he really so much reminds me of my therapist. Though they don't agree when it comes to religion, I think the two would really get along real well!

I've been in some shit churches in my life and met some shit "Christians" (mainly my family) who do nothing but judge and gossip and get upset at me. So, that's one thing we are working on. Trying to get me to meet good Christians that actually do what the bible says.

He also truly keeps what I say to him 100% confidential. I didn't even know how confidential until I took a half step toward meeting with Christian women by asking if I could start with his wife sitting in our last meeting last Wed as I've seen her a few times in the office and I know I could get myself to do that instead of with one of the women from the church that made Facebook friends with me. He never told his wife about anything we have spoken about and all the other pastors I've talked to, telling their wife everything and letting her read our emails was a given. Was suprised about that but that sorta put a bit more in the trust cup for him. He truly is one kick ass awesome guy (and christian).

He also likes to talk about context. He doesn't just throw out a Bible verse and then make that fit a situation like most do. He goes back further to read the context. Or even back to other books to get the full context. About who is being written to or about and why. Then he will talk about how that can apply to our life today. And he doesn't pressure me about going to church like most pastors have done for me and even said "if you say 'you know, I don't really believe in this", that we will still be friends. He calls me his friend. Still trying to figure out what that means lol. Don't really know what a friend is. But, therapy has really been a good sort of pair to these meetings with the pastor. We will talk about stuff like that or stuff me and the pastor have talked about and dive deeper into it. Like what is a friend and different kind of friends and what that means. And so, therapy and the meeting with this pastor really go together very well. Which I like. As my therapist can go further and deeper and it just helps that they go together so well.


God is love.
This I have trouble with. I still define love as sex. And can't seem to not define it like that. The pastor and I have talked about that a lot as have my therapist and I obviously. My therapist and I have beat that for many years now and I still have yet to change that. And, god is also defined differently in my head as the giver of all that's bad. Of real bad things. But, one of many terms me and the pastor are trying to help me redefine. Along with prayer and sacrifice and a few others.

The rest will have to think about. Stuff that I'll have to toss around in my head and see if I can make any head way or at least get a few more maybe questions that can hit it at another angle?


It’s like letting go of the need to regain some control in the situation
Oh, I think you are onto something. I have a HUGE issue with control and needing to control everything. Like making plans for every possible scenario that could ever happen. Because then, no matter what happens, I have control. Part of me doesn't want to forgive because it feels like I'm letting them, and me, off the hook. And I don't want to let any of us all the hook. Especially me. A lot of that has to do with the need to keep punishing myself for what I've done. I mean, the pastor says I don't need forgiveness from god for it because I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't sin. I was forced to. But, my brain so doesn't see it that way. And since I was punished (or tortured. Same thing) for "being bad" back then, that is still what I do today for what I define as "being bad" or "did something bad".

A lot of that isn't define by the cult. The what is bad and what is good. Sex was deemed as good to them. Sacrificing animals was deemed as good to them. The mix up of what was bad and what was good came from early exposure to Christianity. I was going to church when I was little when my mom and dad were together (a church where the pastor raped me) and as a teenager, I was seeking refuage in a christian youth center. So you have a mash up, mixed up, mess of cult + christian views + cult + christian views etc, etc. It's such a circle f*ck in my brain!


“But I did this…”; “The difference is…”; “I should have…” - as if I’m some exception to the rule. Like everyone else deserves kindness but not me, because if only everyone could see how truly awful I am.
I do this too. The "what would you tell a child if that child was forced to do XYZ" or whatever doesn't work. My therapist has tried that as has this pastor and its always, I'd tell them it wasn't their fault and that they don't deserve that, etc. Until you enter me back into that then it's it was my fault and I did deserve it. I think it's the brainwashing effect. I was the "special one". The one that was bad. It was what they told me I was from age 6 to 19 that is the core of how I see myself and why trying to attack it from that angle never works.

Something has changed since talking to the pastor though. Because on Facebook I can now see that I don't deserve to be treated like trash by my family and have stood up for myself more then once by them. I don't see, yet, that I don't deserve bad things and do deserve good things but something is changing. A little bit at least.


Gosh, I’m sorry this is so long and disorganized. I hope maybe something in it makes sense or helps in some way. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Totally! I wish I could pray. And I can't even call it prayer so the pastor calls it "conversations with god" so my brain doesn't shut it down right away. He came up with a genius idea though. Writing poems to god. As a way to converse with god. And I've written maybe 5 or 6 of them. They are honest and raw. And he seems to really love them.

Also (sorry! 😣)

There is a lot I don’t understand about dying for our sins either, if I’m being honest. I don’t know if the human brain is capable of completely understanding the mysteries of God. What I think I understand about previous animal sacrifice is similar to rules about preparing food, what not to eat, etc. I think it was hard for people to understand supernatural things then. They didn’t know science of things like weather, germs. They thought gods were responsible for every little thing that happened. They knew whatever was a part of their daily lives. I think they would sacrifice an animal as a way of humbling themselves to give up something that was essential to their survival? The only way to show that there was a higher power more important than them? In the end though, I think instead of truly humbling the spirit, it became a ritual. A box to check. I think that’s why Jesus stopped that and tried a different way - using stories, miracles, and himself as an example to reach a different level of personal understanding? That there’s more to life than simply meeting our own needs? Not sure if that makes sense.
Huh. Thats a totally different take I've never heard before and makes sense. The pastor hasn't really had an answer as to why animal sacrifice worked. One of those "we will have to ask god when we get to heaven why that system worked" but, makes sense. For why the people would want to do that. But, still not sure why it would pay for sins to get someone into heaven or whatever. But, I accept that there aren't answers to every single question about supernatural things.
 

Defaultxlove

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I remember that Jesus died for my sins. The Bible is all about living a life of freedom. I am not going to argue with anyone about the Bible.

My experiences with God are enough to tell me that ANYTHING that wants to come over my life better have a good reason, a GOD reason/purpose

I am not perfect. But I do seek Gods righteousness and that alone gives me grace to be myself and forgive myself because I know how much God loves me. its a whole lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot lot. I have from age 7 to know my experiences and to see His wonderful majesties.


shame- why be ashamed of something when God died for that very mistake?
In a way its keeping ourselves from God, by ourselves. Its not God striking us with lightening.

hope this helps.
 

Rorster93

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Shame is never ok because it is the product of a harsh inner critic devaluing us from something that happened in the past.

Guilt is for something we did and can atone for.

With PTSD, some of the things we might have done were in the context of abuse and trauma. Neglectful parents can even stunt our development to be able to make healthy decisions for ourselves.

Forgiveness is not going to heal shame because there is no fault. Are we at fault if we did things out of fear in order to survive in circumstances that were completely out of our control? What will heal shame is self-acceptance and self-compassion.
 

TruthSeeker

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Shame is never ok because it is the product of a harsh inner critic devaluing us from something that happened in the past.

Guilt is for something we did and can atone for.

With PTSD, some of the things we might have done were in the context of abuse and trauma. Neglectful parents can even stunt our development to be able to make healthy decisions for ourselves.

Forgiveness is not going to heal shame because there is no fault. Are we at fault if we did things out of fear in order to survive in circumstances that were completely out of our control? What will heal shame is self-acceptance and self-compassion.
I agree that neglectful parent could stunt our development-yep, been there and done that one and cogitated, looped, stayed angry for years and years and then felt bad because I felt that way.......but at some point in time....I forgave them because they didn't know any better....either. They were just part of a big old cycle.....and by forgiving them, I stop the "blaming" cycle and just accept that they were who they were because of their circumstances. That doesn't mean that I forget or pretend that their bad behavior never happened.......that won't ever happen......but letting the past go....considering they were human and had some shitty parents who did the same, and that the trauma/abuse is cyclical, helped. It's taken a really super long time to let go of it all & has helped me heal that piece of my life for the long term and the shame attached to how they made me feel inadequate/not good enough, not smart enough, that I'd never succeed, that I was a disappointment (and I spent a lifetime trying to make them proud by trying to be perfect) But now, reminiscing about the past does not first lead to a serious bout of anger and is no longer powerful enough to spin me up.....and make me feel like a huge old disappointment in their eyes anymore..., because I wasn't good enough. The fact that I did this for years after they died makes me think that I wasted so much time with all those resolved feelings and shame.....and they were dead! I think looking and challenging cognitive distortions helped tremendously. I have other people to work on the shameful feelings who are alive, and now and hopefully I'll get to a better place with those people and my shame. For me, there is still a list of events/people that need working on but as I tackle one after another....I feel lighter....and feel relief.....for my load is lighter and I'm carrying less of a shameful burden. I hope this to be gone someday.
 
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Roland

New Here
Hey, not sure if this is too late.

So the thing with forgiveness, is that by not forgiving, you're "holding on to it". This is understandable, since it's trauma, it's not as easy as just "letting it go" forgiveness requires you to work through it and it sure doesn't happen quickly. So why do Christians want to forgive? Jesus died for everyone's sin. When a person believes in Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, Jesus becomes their savior. As a Christian learns that Jesus loves them enough to die for them and has forgiven them of their sin, they become able to extend forgiveness forward to themselves or others. However, anyone that tries to force you to do this before you're ready, or emphasizes this too much is abusing religion. There are Bible verses that essentially mean "If you don't forgive others, God won't forgive you" and while that may be true, God understands what you are going through, and knows how difficult it is to forgive, especially when you've been hurt so badly.

I have a degree in theology, I was raised Christian, but I've also been abused by religion. I'm a very spiritual person though, so I struggle with religion. I love it, but at the same time, I don't want to continue being abused by religion, I don't want all the dogma and propaganda, but I do want the sense of spirituality and relationship with God. If you ever want to have theological discussions, or talk about religious abuse, I'm always down for it.
 

Rorster93

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Hey, not sure if this is too late.

So the thing with forgiveness, is that by not forgiving, you're "holding on to it". This is understandable, since it's trauma, it's not as easy as just "letting it go" forgiveness requires you to work through it and it sure doesn't happen quickly. So why do Christians want to forgive? Jesus died for everyone's sin. When a person believes in Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection, Jesus becomes their savior. As a Christian learns that Jesus loves them enough to die for them and has forgiven them of their sin, they become able to extend forgiveness forward to themselves or others. However, anyone that tries to force you to do this before you're ready, or emphasizes this too much is abusing religion. There are Bible verses that essentially mean "If you don't forgive others, God won't forgive you" and while that may be true, God understands what you are going through, and knows how difficult it is to forgive, especially when you've been hurt so badly.

I have a degree in theology, I was raised Christian, but I've also been abused by religion. I'm a very spiritual person though, so I struggle with religion. I love it, but at the same time, I don't want to continue being abused by religion, I don't want all the dogma and propaganda, but I do want the sense of spirituality and relationship with God. If you ever want to have theological discussions, or talk about religious abuse, I'm always down for it.
Perhaps forgiveness is not a one and done transaction. It could be a lifelong process like recovery, a component of recovery.

I also know that Christian belief includes justice for victims. How does Forgiveness exist alongside Justice if Forgiveness is wiping the slate clean in the matter of a two minute prayer? Then Justice is obsolete.

My abusers used that against me. I was to forgive their abuse no matter what because my faith required me to wipe the slate clean with them over and over again as though it never happened. So the abuse just continued...until I got away of course. You could say their Christianity included Forgiveness for themselves but none for others and definitely did not include Justice.

But mine does. Mine includes Justice.
 
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