Forgiving a Jerk.

I usually don’t have trouble forgiving people.  That’s what I thought, anyway.  This past weekend I was reminded of wounds someone inflicted on my husband and me over a year ago. Turns out, the situation has been eating at me a lot more than I realized.

One of my best qualities is the ability to see a problem (or person) from various points of view.  And one of my worst qualities is looking at a problem (or person) from every vantage point except my own, without acknowledging my own feelings. Correction. Without acknowledging my anger.

I can come up with dozens of other words to describe a negative emotions other than the “a” word.  I might be frustrated.  Or concerned.  I might even be sad, worried, disheartened, hurt, negatively impacted, misunderstood… on and on… But “angry” sounds like it’s my problem.

Well… newsflash.  It is my problem. (See why I don’t like owning this stuff?? It feels really bad!)

Thanks to a timely message last Sunday, I dared to look at my anger over this wrong-doing.  This jerk ripped us off.  Bad.  It was not inadvertent or an unfortunate parting of ways in which both parties could admit wrong.  This was a crooked person who did a crooked thing and my life was impacted in many ways because of it. I was most angry at what the situation did to my husband, who had already had a year filled with disappointments and abandonment on a number of fronts.  But make no mistake, I was mad for myself, too.

It was unforgivable. This fact, of course, meant I must forgive him. I just didn’t feel like it. What’s worse is…I know very well this jerk is not sorry. AT ALL. This is how he operates.  He will never ask forgiveness or make it right (apart from a genuine miracle).  He will certainly never know, or care, how his carelessness impacted me or the people I love.

I enjoy forgiving when a person is sorry. But when they don’t care, it takes an entirely different level of character to even think about forgiveness.

Be it ever-so-clear, I will never forget.  And I will not ever risk anything on this person’s word again.  I’ll never enter into a contractual agreement with him because he doesn’t honor contracts. But regardless of all of that, forgiveness must happen.

I wrote his name down.  Then, figuratively in my heart and actually in real-life, set his name down, walked away and never looked back.  I left him and all his wrongdoing in God’s hands. I even entrusted my anger about it to God.  I also walked away from my desire to reserve a little pocket of angst for the other people he hurt, and there were many.

It’s a process.  I’m not feeling any warmth toward this forgivee. Based on past experience, this may come in time. But as a matter of trust in a God who is both merciful and just, I really don’t want to take back the job of judge. This, by the way, isn’t a step I’m taking for the guy, but for myself and for God. It’s a burden He didn’t equip me to carry because He wants to bear it for me.

I’m trying to pray for the jerk.  By that, I mean I’m trying to pray something other than, “God, give him what he deserves.” I’m attempting to pray that God will reveal His love to this person who I’m quite sure has never experienced His redeeming love.

I’m not as trusting of people as I once was. Maybe that’s not all bad if it means my trust is placed more squarely on Christ alone.

There is something powerful about admitting, “Yes, I’m angry,” and choosing forgiveness anyway.  If you have someone like this in your life, believe me… a sense of release doesn’t come before the choice to forgive those who use us and hurt us, and pray for them.

The truth will set you free. And the truth is… forgiving a jerk is right, even if it goes against ever emotion you’ve got. And it probably will.

7 thoughts on “Forgiving a Jerk.

Add yours

  1. Emily, I’m so sorry you and your husband have been hurt. I’m constantly amazed that there are people who will lie, scheme, and cause untold pain to people, and then just walk away, completely unaffected. But in spite of how you feel about this jerk, I do understand your need to forgive him…

    A couple years ago a “friend” tried to cross the line with my husband. The pain and anger from her attempted indiscretion were consuming me. Finally, I realized the only way I could move on was to forgive her. It wasn’t easy, and it didn’t happen overnight, but I did it. And here’s what I learned… when you forgive someone who’s truly sorry and has apologized, forgiveness helps *them* heal; when you forgive a jerk who feels no remorse for their actions and shrugs off your pain, forgiveness is all about helping *you* heal.

    Praying you find closure over this quickly.


  2. I know exactly what you mean. We’ve been in a similar situation for almost five years, but in our case it’s the children that’s being affected and hurt and abandoned. Unfortunately by their own father and his new wife. I was abandoned by my father when I was a young teenager and for many years I was angry and bitter towards every person that would wrong me or my family. It’s easier to say “I forgive you” without any heartfelt, sincere attitude. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been off the topic for a while now, and every message comes in season with reason, right?

    God bless.


  3. Forgiveness is treating someone as if they never transgressed against you… that is very tough…and impossible to execute. Just the fact that we really are incapable of doing that, shows us daily how immense God’s heart towards us sinners really is. All our sins are in the depths of the sea…never to be remembered no more.

    We tend to forgive with the mind…not our hearts…because we really never forget.
    And it’s God’s forgetfullness that seperates the Divine from the mundane…it emphazises the magnitude of his Grace.
    Great piece Emily…very honest and transparant…thank you!



  4. Totally get the differentiate between a repenter and non repenter…! Easy to give a gift of forgiveness to a sorry heart – but a willfull transgressor is a tougher call. I have someone in my life who occasionally re-appears to remind me of the pain he brought and I think always of the parable of the ruler who forgave his servant of thousands and that servant refusing to play it forward to his own debtor.. witholding the currency of grace – How much I want to withold… I have to carve a sharp line between emotion and will. And ongoing…. if I’m true to Jesus, its the currency of grace , undeserved, unmerited and without their goodness I give. Just as he does to me….
    love yr blog !


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