Can you forgive and still be angry? I was on a call-in radio program the other day and a couple people seemed confused about their situation. They thought they had forgiven their offender but were still angry. It made them doubt their forgiveness for the person.
My answer was: don’t be so quick to assume you haven’t forgiven them. It depends upon where you direct your anger. If you direct it toward just the loss you incurred from the offense, then yes: you can forgive and still be angry.
Anger is the Natural Response to Loss
Whenever you lose something or someone, one of the emotions that accompanies that loss is anger. It’s natural. You can’t help it. It would be abnormal to not be angry.
The key to dealing with anger isn’t so much in whether you get angry or not but in how long you allow it to remain with you and how you process your anger.
Anger is a natural part of the grieving process. Until you move past the loss, you will still have it even though you have chosen to not get back at your offender (forgiveness). The feeling comes from not being able to control your loss. Someone died. You got fired. You have no control over these things. You are powerless and it makes you mad. But you can still forgive.
Anger Toward Your Offender Leads to Retaliation
On the other hand, if you direct your anger toward your offender, I would say, no, you can’t forgive and still be angry. Being angry at your offender is a form of retaliation and that is the opposite of forgiveness. People feel the need to even the score and can’t rest until they do. This is what gets people into trouble, causing them to waste years getting back at someone, even if it’s just wishing them harm in their mind.
I hope this brings some clarity to a common concern. If you’ve given up the right to get even with your offender, that’s forgiveness. If your loss still hurts, that’s a normal emotion that will exist as long as you feel the loss. As you come to accept the loss and move on with your life, the anger will slowly dissipate.
I discuss issues of anger, loss, grief and forgiveness in my book STUCK…how to overcome your anger and reclaim your life – available in paperback, Kindle or audiobook. Click the link to read samples or listen to a portion of the audiobook.
Question: What do you think? Do you think it’s possible to forgive and still be angry? Leave your comment below.