The Daily ReTORt

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Intersection of Indifference and Forgiveness

I recently saw the Oscar-award winning movie “The Fighter” which starred Mark Wahlberg as boxer Mickey Ward and Christian Bale as Dicky Eklund, Ward’s brother who was a former boxing phenom turned washed-up-crack addict.

It was a great, inspiring adaptation regarding Ward’s true life story, his relationship with his brother, their dysfunctional family and redemption. 

However, Bale’s haunting portrayal of an addict and the subsequent denial of all wrongdoing reminded me of an individual in my life who had similar problems.  There was a time when this individual and I were close and I looked up to him.

I guess when we’re younger we want to believe the best in people and simply don’t know any better.

But as I matured, I saw this individual for what he truly was a selfish manipulator and chameleon who shirked his responsibility as a father; ignored the legion of broken lives and people left in his abusive wake and a masterful addict who managed to elevate drug use to Charles Sheenian levels.

While this person never harmed me directly, I haven’t spoken to him in several years – I’ve been completely indifferent to him.

But that changed a few months ago he sent me an email out-of-the-blue stating that he wanted to reconnect and talk about my dad – who incidentally died more than five years ago.  The email was stunning enough and then this guy adds the following assertion at the end of the email, “Tor, you have a Christian obligation to forgive me because God forgave you.”

Hmm….this was the last guy I expected to stake a claim on the moral high ground.  Needless to say, I deleted the email since it was akin to emotionally electronic spam.

Because, as I said, he never did anything to hurt me so there was nothing for me to forgive. However, I saw in hindsight what he did to others over the years and broke off all contact as a result.  I have nothing in common with this individual; I have no interest in what he has to say about my father; I’m not looking for high drama or histrionics for my immediate family – so my complete indifference continues to remain intact toward him.

All of us have had brushes, crashes or lashes from toxic people in our lives but we don’t have to let them linger there.  For the record I do forgive him, however, I’m not sure how much that means since my inertial indifference is keeping me from picking up the phone to tell him.

Please see similar posts such as this one on Indifference and Forgiveness


  1. I understand how you feel, Tor. My older brother left a similar trail as well. However, I was convicted one day by the story of the prodigal from Jesus parable. I was moved with compassion due to the fact that despite the financial abuse, sexual immorality, and whatever else the lad got into, the father was always waiting, looking to see his son come from over the horizon to return home.
    Many Christians today do not have that compassion for the fallen. Are any of us any better? Are there not sins in our closets as well that no one sees? Its as though Christians who've fallen from grace due to sin, no one sin being greater sin than the next, are worse than non-Christian sinners. Sin is sin not matter who does it or who is hurt by it.
    Granted, isolation is truly one consequence for certain sins, but should it be said among the very followers of the One who said "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness and GO AFTER that which is lost, until he find it?"
    As for my brother, I am not close to him as when we were youth, but rather at a distance. I let him know I am there should he desire to turn his life around. Yes, he's left a mess of a trail to clean up, but wouldn't it be nice if he had someone there to help him clean up the mess he made when he is ready?
    I was convicted even due to my own sin. After my divorce not only was I shunned by my Christian friends, but also my ex wife, who was really the victim. I couldn't believe how much the body of Christ has been known to shun not only Christians who've sinned, but even the victims themselves, as if they were contagious or disease ridden. As long as God has given us the breath of life waking day, it is another opportunity to repent and return to the one who loves us. We need to remember Jesus came for the lost, not for the righteous.

  2. @Anon, you make excellent and valid points - especially regarding the fact that Jesus came for the sick and not the healed. I really appreciate your addition to this discussion here. Your comment is very thought provoking.

  3. Tor,
    I have been sitting with this blog on my heart for a few days, wondering how I could respond. It just hasn't settled with me. As you know, I have chosen to realign relationships that I have in my life based on selfish and/or hurtful events, and I know that feeling of indifference that you describe. That being said, that is not what I aspire to be...nor what i feel called to be. I cringed when I read about the man chiding you about your Christian obligation...because it is not obligation that should be what drives us.
    Rather, when I reflect upon my own unworthiness, and then reflect upon the grace, generosity, compassion, and blessings that God has bestowed upon me, I want to honor Him by elevating myself above my indifference. If he can love me so much in my inequity to offer a sacrifice of his only son, then how can I not extend generosity to my bretheren..His children? Bestowing love to this man, rather than indifference, could give him a clearer understanding of who Christ was/is/will be. And maybe it won't. I can't say. But blessed are the merciful, for mercy shall be theirs.
    This is an area in my life that I personally struggle with..but i think a good first step of breaking out of my indifference, is by remembering the person in prayer.
    Just my thoughts.

  4. @Beeg, I'm humbled by your remarks - that are right on target and a confirmation of what I know in my heart. I REALLY appreciate you sharing such profound insight here because that is the whole point of this blog. I'm grateful to know you and for your words - they've truly softened my heart today. Thanks!

  5. Tor,
    So thankful you are my "brother". This blog has been a blessing to me, making me evaluate and re-evaluate where I am at in my personal journey. Thank you.