Misunderstanding Forgiveness

May 23, 2014

Leslie Leyland Fields had a painful relationship with her father, a journey of pain, healing, and forgiveness she outlined in a beautiful piece for Christianity Today. This was part of a brand new book, Forgiving Our Fathers and Mothers, Finding Healing from Hurt and HateThis is such an important book for many who endure difficult relationships with their parents.

I had the chance to interview Leslie for Leadership Journal about her own story and about forgiveness. Here is one of my questions:

Do you think many of us have a misunderstanding of what forgiveness is?

Yeah, there are a lot of misconceptions out there. Here are two of the biggest I see: People expect forgiveness to be a one-time event rather than a process and rather than a daily practice I think there’s a reason Jesus teaches us to pray “And forgive us our debts as we forgive out debtors” right after “give us this day our daily bread.” And people expect forgiveness to take away all the pain. It doesn’t. If your father didn’t show up for your graduation or your mother just kicked you out of her house, you’re going to feel hurt, no matter how forgiving you are. And you should feel hurt! Forgiveness is not about being pain-free; it’s about being like Christ, pouring out the mercy we received—undeservedly—to the ones like us, who don’t deserve it either. It’s not a bullet-proof vest. In some ways it even makes us more vulnerable.

You can read the entire interview here: