Advice: How do I forgive after abandonment?

Recently I was contacted by an individual. This individual’s name has been changed to John for the sake of their confidentiality. John reached out to me and shared his story of abandonment and his difficulty with forgiveness.



“I was abandoned by my biological mom. My biological mom hadn't even seen my face. She just gave birth to me and then left me. She wrote some information about her and who was supposed to be my biological father. My parents searched based on that information, and nothing is there, so probably the information is not true. But this is not the main thing. She never breastfed me, which was an important thing, and because of that I was so sick [since I was] 3 days old. I could have died. Then I was brought to an orphanage, and they were mean to me, like to other children. I continued to be sick and having other infections. If it wasn't for my adoptive parents, men from child trafficking would have taken me, and God knows what could have happened to me. All these years I thought I had forgiven her, but when I came [to college], maybe because of seeing all those children being adopted and all those parents doing good things about their children, I understood that I hadn't forgiven my biological mom. I don't feel like I hate her, but I just haven't forgiven her. I know Jesus or Christianity teaches us forgiveness as one of the most important virtues, but I just don't feel that way. I want to forgive her, not [because] she deserves that, just [because] I deserve that. God was there [and] brought my real parents in my life, the adoptive ones, and I want to be the best for them. I can’t be the best if I still see at the past.”

John,

You are already on the right track by having the want to forgive. It is not necessarily normal or expected to feel naturally the feeling of forgiveness towards someone who has hurt you; it is a long journey and it takes a lot of work.

Forgiveness is not easy. But it is necessary for freedom.

It is also important to note that forgiveness DOES NOT EQUAL reconciliation.

Forgiving someone does not necessarily mean trusting them, welcoming them into your life, or seeking out a relationship with them. Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Forgiveness simply means acknowledging what someone did but no longer feeling resentful towards them because of what they did.

Forgiveness takes honesty, it takes thought, and to thrive it needs community. You are already taking great steps in your journey towards forgiveness. You are being honest that you haven’t forgiven yet. You are thinking deeply and confrontationally about what forgiveness means and how to approach it. And lastly you are reaching out to others to help you and support you in your journey towards forgiveness.


John asked both for my advice and the advice of others, he will be reading the comments on this post, please be constructive with your words and advice. A moderator will remove destructive or inflammatory comments.

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