Out of Exile: Day 35 – Reframing Your Offender

On Day 34 I talked about the idea of reframing your circumstances. Different things require reframing. I mentioned the need to reframe your loss. It’s also important to reframe anyone who has caused you to enter exile, that is, your offender.

Reframing your offender involves forgiveness. We often frame our offender as the winner in a conflict. We frame them as the one in control while we are the one who is powerless. These pictures need to change.

We thing anger and resentment toward our offenders is a means to balance the power. They hurt us so we hold them in contempt. We refuse to forgive them unless they fulfill our demands.

But what we fail to see is that our lack of forgiveness gives our offender control over us. As long as they owe us, we are obligated to resent them. This only prolongs our time in exile. We need is to be free of any anger or resentment toward our offender. We obtain this freedom by forgiving.

Forgiveness doesn’t excuse the offense. It simply frees you from the need to provide payback of any kind. It enables you to close the book on the past chapters of your life and give your full attention to the present moment and the future. Isn’t it bad enough that your offender stole from you? Do you really want to give them any more space in your brain, even for a minute?

I appreciate Miraslov Volf’s view of forgiveness as absorbing wrong. He says:

Hanging on the cross, Jesus provided the ultimate example of his command to replace the principle of retaliation (“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”) with the principle of nonresistance (“if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”) (Matthew 5:38-42).  By suffering violence as an innocent victim, he took upon himself the aggression of the persecutors.  He broke the vicious cycle of violence by absorbing it, taking it upon himself.  He refused to be sucked into the automatism of revenge… Exclusion and Embrace, pages 291-292

People who refuse to forgive think in terms of scarcity. They have a limited amount of (whatever). Whenever someone offends them, they lose a little more of what little they have.. Their only play in response to the loss is to ward off future attacks with anger and more. Their world gets increasingly smaller. Exile becomes a place of permanence.

A faith-filled person doesn’t think in terms of scarcity. They believe in a God who can fill up what is lost through any offense. Because of this, they absorb the losses of life and are free to leave their exiles.

Could unforgiveness be keeping you in exile?  Maybe you not only need to reframe your offender but reframe God as well. God needs to be framed as someone who can help you absorb your offenses and take back your life.

Please take a minute to leave your comments or questions below. If forgiveness is an issue for you, there are many posts on readingremy.com addressing this. The book STUCK…how to mend and move on from broken relationships takes an in-depth look at forgiveness as well.


One thought on “Out of Exile: Day 35 – Reframing Your Offender

  1. Marcia

    Amen! I think forgiveness is so hard because we don’t understand it. But the key is in something you said , “A faith-filled person doesn’t think in terms of scarcity. They believe in a God who can fill up what is lost through any offense.” If we bring God into the picture, we can trust not only that he will bring the offender to the exact right kind and amount of justice, but will also heal me. That frees me to let go of the injustice, trusting in God’s plan for justice. What Christ accomplished on the cross is not only an great example, but the necessary payment that will bring me healing – “by his stripes we are healed.” I don’t have to agree to bear the loss, but Jesus Christ has already paid the cost for my loss and healing.

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