Several years ago I led a class called “Vessels of Honor.” This class dealt with issues of abuse in all its terrible forms.
One of the key components and perhaps the most difficult to the program was the process of forgiveness. You really can’t be set free from your past, no matter what it is, unless you are able to forgive. It has nothing to do with letting the other person off the hook but has everything to do with setting yourself free.
When you are dealing with abuse what often becomes a concern is whether or not you should maintain a relationship with the person you have forgiven. Forgiveness may or may not mean that but really; forgiveness isn’t about the dynamics of the relationship. Forgiveness is really a separate issue.
What comes into play in situations like this is setting boundaries. There is nothing wrong with setting boundaries in relationships, yet some mistakenly believe they have not truly forgiven if they do this.
In the Old Testament God had the Israelites set up boundaries for the land they were living in. There are a few reasons for this but a couple of them really stand out to me. First of all, it was for their protection. I have boundaries around my home and they serve to protect me and my family.
When someone has abused you, there is absolutely no reason for you to not protect yourself. This is one reason why boundaries may be necessary.
Another reason is that the Israelites were kept from intermingling with all those nasty “ites” of the world (Amalekites, Hittites, etc.). God wanted them to be a people set apart for Him. Sometimes you can’t be set apart to God when you are wrapped up in a relationship that is filled with “ites.” There are some people that really will take you further away from God and that is another reason to set up boundaries in a relationship.
Don’t think that if you decide to put up some boundaries that you haven’t truly forgiven. Forgiveness is releasing a person from having any hold over you. That is completely different. God can direct you in how to deal with a relationship that you have questions about. Pray and ask Him to show you if you need to establish some boundaries.