Should You or Should You Not Forgive Your Abuser?

Q: Dear Todd, “Am I supposed to be grateful for abuse and love my abuser?” Is that what spirituality is teaching me?

TODD ANSWERS: I receive a lot of questions that contain a few common misperceptions about spirituality. For example, people will ask, “Does spirituality mean just being passive? Am I supposed to be grateful for abuse and love my abuser?”

Spirituality is not passive or weak. It is not naive or rose-colored glasses. Quite the opposite. It is the skill of seeing reality soberly, exactly as it is, so that we can respond with wise action.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you go live with your abuser. It means that you no longer let your abuser live inside of you.

Love and forgiveness can even look like setting healthy boundaries, because often that is the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others. We can’t always control others, but we can maintain our inner peace, and sometimes that means doing so from a safe distance.

One way we can learn to love everyone is to think of people like art. I deeply love all art because it comes from a place of wishing to make the world a more beautiful place. However, I can’t hang every piece of art in my house, so I have to be a little choosier. We can love and forgive everyone, but we don’t have to invite them into our home or give away our precious time.

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