It's Not The Same Thing.
I'm amazed at how people get forgiven and respect confused. I do not believe in holding anything against someone, whether they ask for forgiveness or not. Forgiving someone is as much for them as it is for me. I've explained before that I believe holding something against someone for something they have done wrong to you is the equivilant to inviting a cancer to grow inside of you. It will destroy you, it will consume your heart and your mind until your life revolves around that person that has wronged you. I refuse to give anyone that much control over me other than God, and God alone.
With that said, because I have forgiveness in my heart for someone who has wronged me in no way means that I have to remain friends with them, that I have to want them in my life any longer or that I have to respect them. Forgiveness does not equal respect.
Would I feed them if they were hungry? Yes. Would I clothe them if they were naked? Yes. Would I give my life to save them? I believe I would, yes.
Let's say I was raped and I knew my attacker. Would I forgive him? I believe that I would, yes. Would I pray for him? Yes. Because if I chose to hate him instead of forgive him, I would live 24/7 in torment and he would still have control over me. Would I want him arrested and held accountable for what he did? Without a doubt, yes. Would I ever invite him into my home? No. Would I consider him a friend? No. Would I respect the person that he is? No, I would not. But I do believe that 'hating' is a choice that is ours to make...and giving in to hate is refusing to forgive.
My boys and I have had many discussions about forgiveness, given our recent circumstances. I am proud of both of my boys, and especially of Casey, because it was hardest for him to forgive his father. But he has forgiven his dad, we pray together for his dad and for his dad's family. He (Casey) has, however, lost respect for his father. He chooses to avoid his dad when he visits us on Sundays. Casey is 17 years old, a senior in high school, an extremely responsible young man and one of the most generous and kind hearted people I've ever known. I am not going to force Casey to face a man who sneaked out of our house leaving behind his little brother with the responsibility of telling his mom and himself that his dad had packed his bags and moved out to live with another woman, even if that woman is a lesbian, he left his family to live with her. Our respect moved out with him that day.
As if that wasn't enough, when my boys and I asked if we could visit their grandmother, my mom-in-law, the next week, she told us no. She told me that she didn't feel like waiting on us. This stunned and hurt us, because the boys and I had always went to get groceries for her, did chores, even washed our bed sheets and re-made our beds with the clean sheets before leaving. The boys and I were devastated. The boys felt that not only did they lose thier dad, but the only grandparent they have left. But, my mom-in-law is battling cancer (which we believe and thank God for her healing) and so as much as it hurt, we tried to believe that she just didn't feel well enough for us to visit. That is until Mark told us that she wanted the boys to come visit, but only with him...not me. I've loved my mom-in-law for 22 years. I lost my mom nearly 15 years ago, and she has been my mom as much as my friend. My mom-in-law and I have vacationed alone together, we've been close and I've never had anything but respect for her. When I told the boys that it wasn't them, just me, that she didn't want to see...they were offended for me. I can't blame them for that. I'd have felt the same way. Do I want them to stay close to their grandmother? Of course I do. Will I force them to? No. Though she wouldn't see us, and has never called to see how we were doing or if we needed anything since Mark left, she did continue to send the boys Christian cards the first few weeks. And now, I'm being told by others in Marks family that I shouldn't let the boys know any of what's going on because they believe I'm poisoning their minds against Mark and his mother. I have never that first time said one bad word against the boys dad or their grandmother. I never will. I love Mark and I love my mom-in-law. Mark gave me two wonderful sons and my mom-in-law gave me Mark. How could I not love them and not be forever grateful to them? It isn't possible. But I've lost respect for them.
My first and foremost responsibilty in this life is to raise strong, responsible and loving young men. I teach them forgiveness by example. I teach them love by example. I teach them being a Christian isn't how you talk, but how you walk...by example. They're learning the hard way that someone can talk like a Christian for a lifetime, and yet not walk like one.
They're learning that respect is something that you earn and something that can be lost. Hard lessons to learn, at any age.