Forgiveness: Insiders and Outsiders Part IV

Is it demanding repayment to remove myself from relationship with someone?

If the relationship was an outside the community relationship, then things get a little complicated. Are we talking about a complete stranger? Are we talking about someone with whom you have negative history and baggage? Are we talking about an acquaintance with whom there is no particular baggage or trauma?

I'll go in reverse order. If there is no baggage or trauma, then we have an opportunity to model God's love through addressing the issue with love and compassion and seeing how the other person responds. They may very well become an "insider" if they respond well.

If it's an outsider with whom you have enough history to know that conversation about harm caused will only lead to more harm, then it is best to do nothing. It is in these situations where we are not obligated to explore forgiveness (because we've followed Jesus' recommended order of events and the person has become an outsider through being obstinate). Withdrawing from relationship may even be best for all parties, particularly if we're tempted to get revenge.

You see, what concerns me most with outsider relationships is not so much being emotionally withholding or withdrawing but the act of seeking revenge. Maybe most of you would say that you've never really tried to get revenge. If so, good for you. That is a legitimately good thing. If you have traumatic forgiveness situations with outsiders, and you have not sought revenge, then you have not demanded repayment. As far as this theory of forgiveness is concerned, you have forgiven. Even if you have no relationship.

That seems so counter-intuitive when we've spent so much time thinking that forgiveness is all rainbows and butterflies and happiness and joy. The reality is, forgiveness is far messier than that, particularly when we're talking about life's deepest traumas and tragedies.