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  • Jodi Lee


Many times we as Christians get confused on what forgiveness is/isn't.

For the past few years I have studied, read doctrine and prayerfully searched for answers.

I have been dealt a situation where obsessive theft of my intellectual property was stolen. The offender, someone I know and once considered a friend used my inspired ideas, thoughts, and words in which I shared with her to make money.

Unfortunately, the theft of intellectual property is only a portion of the situation the heartbreaking passive aggressive/covert bullying has been the most damaging. Previous attempts to communicate with the offender resulted in them saying one thing and doing another or ghosting. It is devastating! Unless you have experienced it, it's hard to understand and wrap your brain around it.

passive aggressive/covert bullying: "This is a less frequently mentioned form of bullying, but in some ways it's the most insidious. With many bullies, you can see them coming because they are quick to make their intimidating presence known. A passive-aggressive or covert bully, however, behaves appropriately on the surface, but takes you down with subtlety. Examples of passive-aggressive and covert bullying include negative gossip, negative joking at someone’s expense, sarcasm, condescending eye contact, facial expression or gestures, mimicking to ridicule, deliberately causing embarrassment and insecurity, the invisible treatment, social exclusion, professional isolation, and deliberately sabotaging someone’s well-being, happiness, and success." -Preston Ni Psychology Today

I have spent countless hours in the temple contemplating the situation in great detail hoping to find clarity and resolve. I visited with my Bishop When the situation first began. His advice was this, "Regardless of what has been done or not, you need to forgive" He was right and I knew it.

I first needed to better understand the behavior of the offender as it was contradictory and confusing to me. I reached out to a mental health professional for insight. I can't tell you how much that helped. Ultimately, I was impressed (on several occasions) to move forward with legal action. Before doing so, I felt it important to check myself and where I was in the forgiveness process. God knows the intent of our heart and I wanted to be sure my motive in moving forward was clear and pure with no feelings of hate or revenge.

I have come up with 5 Misconceptions on what we might consider forgiveness to look like and what Forgiveness really is.

1. Misconception

To forgive we must relieve the offender of responsibility


It is NOT unkind or a lack of Christlike love to hold someone accountable. Often times accountability is the most loving thing we can do, especially when the offender has a history of doing this to others. When we have gone above and beyond to resolve the issue and there is no cooperation from the offender, legal action might be required.

"Elder Dallin H. Oaks a law school professor, a Utah Supreme Court Justice, a president of Brigham Young University, and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints shares insight and guidance in his book The Lords Way as to when filing suit is appropriate for Christians.

In D&C 42: 79, 84-86, it states that people who have killed, robbed, stolen, or lied “shall be delivered up and dealt with according to the laws of the land.” Elder Oaks clarifies that the laws of the land refers to the civil and criminal courts. Additionally, Elder Oaks cites D&C 134: 11, the Church’s “declaration of belief,” published in 1835, which states: “We believe that men should appeal to the civil law for redress of all wrongs and grievances, where personal abuse is inflicted or the right of property or character infringed, where such laws exist as will protect the same.” The Lord’s Way, p. 155." - Christians, Mormons and lawsuits

2. Misconception

If we forgive we are condoning the actions and behavior of the offender


Forgiving the offender does NOT condone their behavior but frees us from bitterness.

Not long ago a sweet Sister shared a heartbreaking experience that happened years prior. There was a construction worker who was on a job near her home who molested her 6 year-old son. CAN YOU IMAGINE THE HURT AND ANGER! She eventually forgave this man because the hate was eating her up inside.

3. Misconception

We must find it within ourselves to trust the offender in order to forgive them.


We can forgive and still set strong boundaries to help keep us safe whether it be physically or emotionally from an offender who continues to exhibit negative patterns and an unwillingness to take responsibility for their actions. I am a trusting person by nature which is what got me in this situation. It has been incredibly hard not to lose faith in people after the covert bullying/abuse I have experienced, especially when it has come from those who wear Chist name on their chest. It goes against everything we know a Christians. I was confused and simply didn't understand. This has been the most devastating portion of my situation. YOU NEED TO SET STRONG BOUNDARIES!!!

4. Misconception

Expecting the offender to earn our forgiveness


Forgiveness is not earned. When there is lack of accountability and a Victim mentality from the offender, we can still forgive because we too are imperfect. We place our brokenness at the Savior's feet and seek peace through His atonement.

For me it has been incredibly helpful to seek guidance and understanding from a mental health professional to better understand the offenders behavior and personality. By doing this I can now see the behavior for what it is rather than simply labeling it something it's not. Doing this has also helped me know what to expect from the offender.

5. Misconception

Forgive, forget and move on!


Forgiveness is not always a one-time event. When we forgive someone it doesn't necessarily mean the feelings of hurt, pain and betrayal disappear and it doesn't mean we always forget. At times we may remember the event but once we forgive we no longer need to obsess over it. When thoughts and feelings resurface we pardon the fault once again and turn it over to God for judgment. Until Seventy times Seven!

We can do our best to move on, forgive and not discuss the situation especially if we know the truth in our hearts. "What God knows about me is more important than what others think about me " - Surgeo Bell

However, there are some situations where we must defend our family name and stand up for what is right no matter how hard it is.

When we take action against the offender It is important to check in with ourselves often and make sure the motive and purpose behind our behavior is that of light, love and healing.

I have learned, true forgiveness can only come through a humble heart.

I hope you find these 5 tips helpful

If you are in a situation where you have been hurt, manipulated, betrayed and mistreated by someone, I AM SO SORRY!


If you are struggling to forgive, remember, we are commanded to not only love others, but to love ourselves and forgiveness iS ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIFTS WE CAN GIVE TO ourselves.

"If we really want to love we must learn how to forgive" - Mother Teresa

With Love, Jodi

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