I’ve been struggling with forgiveness and how to grant it. My best friend who was like a brother to me for most of my life slept with my girlfriend. They chose not to tell me and I ended up having to find out through somebody else. I confronted my friend and never spoke to either afterwards. This was about three years ago. I think as time passed I learned to forgive them, I’m sure they don’t know this. I haven’t physically told them I forgive them. I guess my question is, do I need to tell them?
Forgiveness if much more for the benefit of the person doing the forgiving than the person being forgiven. That makes sense if you think about the point of forgiveness as setting someone free. Holding onto bitterness weighs you down, and forgiving removes that weight, as I hope you have found.
So it is with the goal of bringing freedom that we should approach your question. Would you contacting these people and telling them set them free? Or would it reignite feelings of guilt?
The factor that you don’t mention is how often you see them. If you still run into these folks regularly and it still has the awkward factor, then telling them would probably be a good move. If you have any interest in restoring your friendship, then telling them is a prerequisite.
If, on the other hand, everyone involved has gone their separate ways, tracking them down just to say “hey, remember that terrible thing you did, just wanted you to know I forgive you” would probably come off as more passive-aggressive than actually forgiving.
The very basic, yet nuanced, question to ask yourself and pray through is: does saying this make anyone’s life better? Start with you, if you are fully over this, then does this make it better? Then think about the others involved. Does contacting them make their life better?
-Matt from The Bridge