While I am very happy to have left the Christian faith, the events that led up to that have left me with a lot of bad feelings. But as I write that story (I hope to share it with you all soon), I'm finding I have a lot to forgive. And incedentally, one of the few things that continues to impress me about the Fundamentalist community I was part of is their concept of forgiveness: not the part about God forgiving people, but the part about people forgiving people. People being able to let go of their anger and finding freedom. But then again, that other part about it all being possible through the love of Christ living in us... well, that I'm not so impressed with either.

So anyway, I've been wondering a lot about this lately. Is the ability to forgive completely and unconditionally a myth like so much else in the Fundamentalist belief system, or is it actually attainable? And if so, how?

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It"s been my experience that true forgiveness takes time more than anything.

You can't change the past so you concentrate on what's going on now. People come

and go in life and if they reject you don't worry,there's plenty more where they came from.

It does take work and I haven't mastered the art,but it can be done.

These so called forgiving christians in my experience are the worst in the world at it,

I used to work with a bunch of church people in my town who were still mad at me

about thus and so that happened when we were 5,9,11 years of age,worried about

who ran around with who in high school and we were in our late 40's,and I was not

a violent abusive child.

Christians showed me just how ridiculous holding a grudge can get, and for that I thank them.

Most important is that what happened in the past is no longer important,and neither are the people,

avoid them,if you have to,if you see them in public and they speak to you do not have to respond.

This isn't holding a grudge so much as it is protecting yourself,you might be able to let go of the past

but chances are they won't or can't,leaving the past in the past is sometimes the best idea.
Thanks for writing back Richard. Separating myself from the people involved is something I've thought about - a lot actually, but there are complications about my particular situation that make me question whether it's really the best approach for me to take. Maybe I should say a little more about what prompted me to ask that question...
You see, my wife suffered from severe obsessive compulsive disorder through the first four years of our marriage (and before our marriage too, though she hid from me the true extent of it). She cared for me I think, but she was also abusive - in terms of her expectations of me, and at times physically as well if I would not comply with what she felt needed to be done: failing to deal with so-called "problems" the way she "needed" was equivalent to betrayal.

(The demands of OCD, the sadness of seeing my wife suffer, and the subtle feelings of resentment that built up inside me are difficult to explain unless you've had a similar experience, but those years were the crux of what allowed me to re-examine my faith in a way I probably otherwise never would have, and to finally leave it behind.)

I wanted to walk away and start a new life, but couldn't leave my wife unable to care for herself. And there was also our little daughter, born a year after we married, for me to think about.

My problem is that at our sixth anniversary now, with my wife's anxiety and obsessions all but completely disappeared (for which she credits God and says I'm blind for not seeing it that way), I still feel resentful about those times. With my wife self sufficient and probably even able to hold a job if she wanted one, part of me still wants to walk away and start a new life. And this whole atheist-married-to-a-christian thing doesn't help either.

So yeah, I'm kind of in a quandary and don't know what will happen between us. I just know I'd feel so much better about it if I could forgive.

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