You’re attending an event. The person who wronged you will be there. You forgave them, but you don’t trust them. They show no evidence of change or remorse. Maybe they said they’re sorry “you’re hurt,” but they won’t admit their wrong. How do you handle the situation?
When someone is in the wrong, we want to help that person see the light, change her ways, and stop hurting us. But we don’t have the power to change her. We only frustrate ourselves when we continue to try. It is better to accept responsibility for what we can manage—ourselves.
The day we learn we are responsible for only our own actions and attitudes is our liberation day. God supplies self-control, not other-control.
“We’ll all stand before God’s judgment seat. Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God,” (Romans 14:10, 12, NIV).
Before we discuss how to treat the wrongdoer, let’s lay some groundwork on what is and isn’t required.
- You don’t have to approach the person who wronged you to forgive them.
Forgiveness is between you and God. The perpetrator may deny the wrong or blame you. They may be dead.
A woman who’d heard me speak on forgiveness said, “When you said I didn’t have to approach the person who wronged me, I knew I wanted to forgive my dad . He sexually abused my sister and me for years.
“Because I couldn’t broach the subject with him, I believed I could never forgive him. I forgave him that night. He called sometime later, and I was able to talk to him without knots in my stomach for the first time in my adult life.”
- Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily restore a relationship.
Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Romans 12:18, (NIV) says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
The ideal is a restored relationship, even a better relationship. But you can’t reconcile with everyone. Some deny the injury, their part, or blame you. Others are wicked.
Jesus wept over Jerusalem and wanted to gather them under His wings like a mother hen, but they would not let Him. (Luke 13:34)
Jesus called Herod a fox and later would not speak to him. (Luke 13:32, 23:9)
Proverbs warns “Don’t hang out with angry people; don’t keep company with hotheads. Bad temper is contagious—don’t get infected.” (Proverbs 22:24-25, MSG).
Remain open to reconciliation, but don’t force it. Trust has to be rebuilt before we can continue at the same level as before.
Next time we’ll continue with Maintaining your freedom by looking more at how to treat the other person.
What is your best tip for helping someone when they have to be around someone who has wronged them? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
Deborah W. Wilson