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Precious Nwabugo: You Want my Forgiveness? Earn It!



I got my first lesson on people feeling entitled to my forgiveness from my father.  At the age of 13 or 14, I had fumed at a text message he sent to my aunt, in all caps, “WHEN YOU PEOPLE FINISH RAISING HER, AT THE END OF THE DAY SHE WILL REMAIN, MY DAUGHTER,” it read. Although not the literal translation from the well-crafted Igbo proverb he sent it in, that was close enough. I remember exactly how annoyed and defeated I felt. My father was making a decision and would make decisions to not contribute to my life, because he knew I would eventually forgive him. It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission, right? Yeah, the truth was he was right, and that’s exactly where my pain stemmed from. What was going to be his incentive to be a better father? What would be the consequences of his actions? That man single-handedly launched me into a very complicated relationship with forgiveness.

A combination of the rhetoric “I forgive to set myself free not the other person,” and forgiveness for religious reasons has contributed to making the concept of forgiveness an etiquette extended to every and anyone. It has become a standard to uphold for the morally upright; basically, If you’re a good person you will forgive and as a result has become expected.  An ‘I’m sorry’ or  ‘I apologize’ automatically gives the person in the wrong a moral footstool to stand above the situation. This quickly escalates to where even spectators of the issue demand forgiveness, spouting things like, “at least they’ve apologized,” or “the Bible asks us to forgive,” or “What else do you want them to do? They’ve apologized!” In fact, often times the person hurt isn’t given the time to experience the full range of emotions for being hurt before they’re imposed with the burden to fulfill forgiveness. Before you know it, whether ready or not, you’re faced with”Do you forgive me? Do you forgive them?

People respond to how unrealistic the expectation of forgiveness is in different ways. Some seek divine intervention, some create hurdles to be jumped before they can grant forgiveness. You see this in the manifestation in questions like, “why should I forgive you? Why are you sorry? How do I know you won’t do it again?

The answers to these questions help to pacify our feelings. We also see it in how people dish out consequences by creating boundaries as a result of an offense. “I forgive them, but I don’t want them in my life,” or “I forgive you, but…”

I thought I had forgiven my father, and when people asked, I often said I had; but I had my own I forgive you, but(s)… But(s) that were rooted in me trying to create consequences for his actions, because he wouldn’t have any, if I simply let go of everything. I would say things like I forgive him but he wasn’t there, so we can’t have a father and daughter relationship.

I wanted a situation where I would forgive him but not REMAIN his daughter. He wasn’t going to eat his cake and have it. Was this forgiveness? I’m not sure. The relationship between forgiveness and consequences is quite complicated and I haven’t figured it out yet. If you were cheated on and you forgive your partner, do you stay or leave (consequences)? Is one or the other a better way to handle it? When you forgive, do you have to truly let go of consequences? Do you allow things to be the same as the offense never happened?

Forgiveness (both in religious or social terms) implies to let go, to let go of debt, revenge, consequences, resentfulness towards a person as a result of an offence. Forgiveness is said to be a ‘decision’ to let go and not a feeling. This is where the conflict comes in, because to successfully forgive you have to deal with whatever feelings you harbour as a result of the offence.

So, forgiveness might be a decision, but it’s very much tied to our feelings. Feelings like anger, hurt, sadness, do not often disappear at a snap of a finger… just because you ‘decide’ they should. Depending on a situation and offence it takes time because people need time to heal It is a process that people need, to allow for when they think “sorry” or “I apologise” makes up for an offence. In fact, if we are being truthful, some people never get to a point where they truly let go of everything. So yes, yes brethren, there’s quite a possibility that forgiveness isn’t always granted.

Photo Credit: Kuprevich | Dreamstime

Precious Nwabugo is a fan of words. She puts them together to re-live, create, destroy, erase experiences and ignite emotions. Thankfully she got a B.A in Communication to justify that love for writing, which is mostly Fiction and Lifestyle pieces, Follow her blog  YouTube - Twitter - @praeshh.'


  1. Igbo Clifford

    October 7, 2017 at 2:57 am

    funny shaa

    • gia

      October 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm

      what’s funny?

  2. Anonymous

    October 7, 2017 at 6:11 am

    I am also in the same dilemma with my ex husband. He wants to be forgiven after domestic violence but you can see ego and pride written all over it. He even insinuates that my daughter ll come looking for him when she’s grown and yet doesn’t contribute to her upkeep and of course I don’t need to tell a man to contribute to his child. He failed as a husband and is failing as a dad. I have forgiven him and trying to getting my life together but flashes of his personality during courtship and then violence during marriage make me feel disappointed and angry with myself for making such bad decisions for myself and my innocent daughter. I pray she understands that I left because of her cause I didn’t want her to grow into a bitter, violent and unhappy child. Forgiveness is key to moving forward but doesn’t mean you have to let them into your live. You can forgive from afar. #myopinion

  3. Kanyinsola

    October 7, 2017 at 7:02 am

    I’m just Curious to know the exact work you do to earn God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness is not for the other person…. it is for you to heal and move c on.

    • Mohammad

      October 7, 2017 at 7:23 am

      While this is true in the strictest sense, she already pointed this out when she wrote you cannot heal if the feelings brought about by the offence have been processed and dealt with. People beg for forgiveness for themselves or on behalf of others and the simple “I forgive you” you might offer is not the entire process. In fact that particular step only serves the offender so they can feel absolved of whatever guilt they might feel. We, on the other hand, who have been offended and have ostensibly granted forgiveness still have to deal with whatever emotions arose within us as a result of the offence. That is where true forgiveness as a process begins and ends.

    • Cocoa

      October 7, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      This is an interesting question youve asked. To be honest I think about it a lot and pray the Holy Spirit will give me a revelation on it.

      It is true we can never be deserving of Gods love that He makes so easily accessible….but in that there is still a condition for forgiveness by God….REPENTENCE ( not just apology but a geniune attempt and interest at CHANGE)

      Makes you wonder doesnt it?
      For me personally, I Forgive without apology…simply because I do not want that heaviness in my heart nor is any offence worth distancing me from God. However i do not believe i have to entrust myself to that person in the same way….especially if they havent REPENTED.

      God doesnt want any of us to be a doormat or a victim to another’s weaknesses. I am content if i can think of you after offence and have no ILL FEELINGS towards you.

    • Explain

      October 7, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      No work dear. He forgave us even before we loved him! That’s how amazing He is.

    • slice

      October 7, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      But she’s not God. No need to forgive an absentee father. He should be scorned for life. Just ignore him

    • Kenechi

      October 7, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      You repented and asked for forgivenss. That’s the ‘work’. If God forgave randomly, there wont be hell occupants

    • Ruby

      October 8, 2017 at 7:30 am

      People now feel forgiveness is their entitlement. To the extent that they consciously do wrong because they feel forgiveness will be served so the offended can be set free.
      Even after God forgives, would it stop the law of sowing and reaping? Sebi, the thief at the cross was forgiven and promised eternity…didnt he still die for his sins?
      For me a person doesn’t even need to ask for me to forgive BUT that doesn’t mean we will become bread and butter. For me, it becomes… Go YOUR Way and sin no more.

  4. Patty boo

    October 7, 2017 at 10:23 am

    My mom left me when I was some months old to marry another man, my aunt said she locked me in a room and I nearly died when they found me, she calls me now on random to ask for money and all, truth be said sometimes i wnt to insult her soul out of her body and all that but my counsellor would say” forgive everyone even before they offend you, No one should have that much power over anyone , let her go! ”
    its HARD but i feel at peace now, i think of it and all the abuse i had to go through and i’m like MAMA i forgive you, before i would literally choke lolz! But hey!
    MAMA I FORGIVE YOU!! Not for your sake but for my sake.

  5. ***

    October 7, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I just don’t understand o! This lengthy redundant article with mostly inconsequential references … you are certain that text message sent by your father wasn’t spawn out of acrimony for his ‘in-laws’ … I know igbos, when traditional matrimonial rites have not be done, a man is denied access to his child … what was the circumstance of your birth?

    Babe, we must all be wronged once in a while and we must all wrong others once in a while because we are humans and imperfect … all these diagnosis of emotions and assessment of contrite character of the offender sounds like WORK! Learn to actually let go (unconditionally), it helps you think straight … of course our granting forgiveness does not mean we shouldn’t take carefully considered and helpful decisions that benefit us (even if it is punitive to the offender) to avoid future occurrences (especially for those who don’t show genuine contrition)

    I hope you don’t feel entitled to God’s forgiveness, read the Lord’s prayer and see what Christ said about forgiveness (no condition) … I assume you believe in God, if not ignore all the ‘bullsh*t’ I’ve written

    • Yelloe

      October 7, 2017 at 1:15 pm

      Honey, you simply do not have the range to understand what this article is really saying. You can’t just go around dashing your forgiveness to people anyhow simply because they asked for it. You need to process your feelings and see if they’re deserving of it. It’s really not that hard to understand. Anybody that uses the Bible solely as the base of their argument is one who should not be taken seriously.

    • Iya ibeji

      October 7, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      When certain people hurt you in unimaginable ways, then you understand that there is a kind of hurt that takes grace to heal, there is hurt that makes you become burdened while your offender who thinks they have apologized live free.
      You see I have experienced such hurt and I told the person that it was forgiven and thought I meant it, but it took grace for me to forgive. I got to understand what the bible means by God does not give you more than you handle.
      While I do not agree that people need to earn forgiveness, I also realised that it’s one of the hardest things to do especially where there is no remorse of the part of the offender. We need to live free, not burdened by the actions, hence the need to forgive. I see forgiveness as a selfish choice, it should not be done for the offender but for ourselves so we can live fulfilled lives.

  6. What an ass

    October 7, 2017 at 11:46 am

    People need to understand this

    You can forgive a person and proceed whilst not having any I’ll against them, that doesn’t mean that all should be as it was. A woman/man can leave an abusive partner and eventually forgive them without actually being reconciled back to them or continuing their relationship. When people mistake Forgiveness for reconciliation it results in unnecessary pressure to restore something that cannot and should not be restored.

    • mela

      October 10, 2017 at 10:08 am

      My small madam at work hurt me badly last week. She said some evil things about mr yo our boss, i confronted her, my boss called us together & reconciled us in a way….. She’s someone I hv respected very well before. I hv prayed and asked God to help me forgive her. But I can’t bring myself to greet her again……My heart is not at peace…I don’t want to sin against God with my actions.

  7. Kenechi

    October 7, 2017 at 10:25 pm

    This is the best thing I’ve read on bellanaija.

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