What if it will create even more tension if you go to a person and say, “I forgive you.” Could this start a big argument if she is not ready to hear it?

The short answer is: Yes, you are correct. An argument could ensue after you proclaim your forgiveness. Yet, forgiveness does not have a rigid set of rules associated with it. A person can forgive without ever using the word “forgiveness” to the one forgiven. There are many ways to show and express forgiveness: with a smile, with a new attention to what a person is saying, with a returned phone call, with a kind word about the person to others. If you think that proclaiming, “I forgive you” will cause an argument, then either do not say those particular words or hold them until later, until the person may seem ready to hear them. Your forgiveness can be sincere without using those particular words. As a final point, your forgiveness can be complete from your end, not necessarily from the other person’s end, who may or may not accept your gift, as you forgive without words of forgiveness. It can be complete because you are showing compassion and concern for the person who was unfair to you.

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Categories: Ask Dr. Forgiveness