Friday, August 14th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Undeserved Forgiveness


Forgiveness is the most loving thing we can
do for ourselves; it is a way of taking care of
ourselves. It is an act of grace.

For a marriage or any relationship to be healthy and growing, forgiveness is not an option. It is essential. Without forgiveness, the relationship does not have much of a chance to grow or move beyond the damaging event.

When we choose to forgive, we are taking charge of our wound and refusing to remain a victim.

It is a concrete step of assuming responsibility for our healing. The act of forgiving becomes a statement of hope in the most painful of circumstances. By forgiving, we are lifted above the temptation of becoming embittered and cynical.

Forgiveness is the most loving thing we can do for ourselves; it is a way of taking care of ourselves. It is an act of grace. Grace is a beautiful word because it brings unconditional love into the picture. It doesn't demand that we be perfect but allows us to have clay feet.

As people with clay feet, we stumble, make mistakes, make wrong choices, fall short of commitments, disappoint others and self.

Sometimes we do destructive things not because we are cruel, rather, we make these bad choices out of our unmet needs, wounds and sometimes out of stupidity.

When we forgive with grace, we are offering to those who injured us an opportunity to learn and change from their mistakes. Grace doesn't label or freeze others to a wrongful act nor does it let the wrong action say everything about who they are. It doesn't give up on others even when they give up on themselves. It believes in others even when they do not believe in themselves.

Grace has been described as: In spite of love. In spite of the destructive actions of others, grace seeks healing and reconciliation. In short, grace is larger than the wrong that has been inflicted. It is not controlled by destructive behavior but by what is most loving. Grace gives to others what they need, instead of what they deserve.

Life is not always fair and often we are forced to deal with situations that are painful. Without our permission, these painful moments, such as destructive actions of others, invade our lives and bring changes we do not want.

While it may be true that we may not have control over these invasive factors, the good news is that we do have control over how we deal with them and how they impact us. Forgiveness is one effective tool we have for taking charge of how the actions impact our lives. In this way, our wounds are not in charge of us nor do they determine how we feel and act.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700