Archive for August, 2012
Without the other guy apologizing to me, it seems so phony to offer forgiveness. How am I helping him if i just forgive? If he apologizes, then he sees the error of his ways. Waiting to forgive after the other apologizes is more loving than unconditional forgiveness. Do you agree?
Thank you for your challenging question. I think you and I have a confusion of terms. To forgive is to exercise a moral virtue of mercy toward an offending other person. All moral virtues, whether it is justice, or patience, or kindness can be expressed unconditionally. By this I mean we can choose to be fair or patient or kind without permission to do so, without someone else doing something first that then allows us to exercise the virtue.
Why should this not be the same with the moral virtue of forgiveness? Why should forgiveness be the one and only moral virtue that is conditional on someone doing something (apologize or repent or pay back something) before we can exercise that virtue?
I think you might have in mind the issue of reconciliation, which of course is related to forgiveness (but different than it). Reconciliation is a negotiation strategy in which two or more people come together again in mutual trust. It probably is prudent (depending on the severity of the offense, of course) to withhold reconciliation until the person sees what he/she did, feels sorry for it, expresses the sorry as an apology, and decides to not be hurtful again (within reason because we are all imperfect).
So, you can lovingly and unconditionally forgive and then hold the person to a high standard in the act of reconciliation. This, then, does not render forgiveness “phony,” but instead shows the link between the moral virtue of forgiveness and the negotiation strategy of reconciliation.
Back to school ads. The sun setting so much earlier than in June. A flock of birds getting ready to pack their suitcases and head south. It is time to return to academic pursuits.
As homeschool parents prepare their curricula for this academic year, we at the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) want to make a suggestion. If one of your goals is strong character in your child, then have you considered a forgiveness curriculum this year? We at the IFI now have guides for homeschooling moms and dads that start at preschool (age 4) and go through grade 10 (age 15).
Each of these guides is available in our Store and we can deliver them electronically to you very quickly.
Each guide helps the parent to present a comprehensive and developmentally-appropriate forgiveness curriculum in about one hour per week for 8 to 15 weeks (depending on the age of the student). The guides suggest specific story books to accompany the curriculum so that the students first sees how story characters solve their interpersonal conflicts. After seeing this, it then is the student’s turn to think about forgiveness for him- or herself.
Many homeschooling websites emphasize the education in virtuous living for the child. For example, at home-school.com there is a family-life books section filled with themes for wholesome living. Forgiveness helps students confront their own anger and to respond with strength and respect.
At homeschool.com, there is anon-line Christian homeschooling section. Our guides come in two forms: a secular version for those parents who wish to teach virtues as moral philosophy and a Christian version for those parents who wish to teach forgiveness as a virtue in the context of Christian love.
At lovetolearn.net, we see a life-skills section. Has anyone cast their net widely regarding life-skills and considered this: Good forgiveness education helps children and adolescents learn how to cope with injustices and disappointments with patience, long-suffering, and respect. Are these not as important and perhaps even more important than learning how to manage money? After all, a balanced check-book without balanced emotions will not make for harmonious family relationships.
Our own research shows that as angry students learn to forgive, then they can increase in academic achievement. It makes sense. What student learns well when emotionally churning inside?
Jon’s Homeschool Resources, one of the largest homeschooling sites on the web, promises “neutrality” in that he is not selling anything to you. We, too, try hard not to influence your teaching of forgiveness by imposing a particular ideology on you or the student. We present forgiveness for what it is: a moral virtue in which the one unjustly treated strives to reduce resentment and to offer goodness to the one who was unfair. This definition of forgiveness is compatible with all of the monotheistic traditions as well as humanistic approaches. Forgiveness, you see, has universal meaning, with the nuances coming from you, the homeschooling parent.
Have a great fall. We hope that your student has a great life by learning to forgive.
My fiance recently separated from me. During therapy she mentioned that she loved me, but was extremely angry at me. When we first started dating there were some infidelity issues on my end, and what’s worse, I lied about it or hid the truth. It has been several years, and there have been no further infidelity issues. I lied, because I was trying to protect our relationship. I have come completely clean in therapy, but I am not sure if there is anything I can do beyond the counseling…
Your fiancé appears to be harboring resentment from your past infidelity. Does your therapist emphasize forgiveness as part of the healing process? If not, you might consider asking him or her to work with both of you on giving and receiving forgiveness.
If your therapist will not do this, then you should consider switching therapists to someone who knows forgiveness therapy. I recommend that you purchase a copy of The Forgiving Life book for your fiancé, for the therapist, and for yourself. All of you can then have the same goal with the same content on which to work.
Your fiancé’s anger can be overcome through forgiveness therapy, especially if you have truly changed, as you have indicated.
On January 19, 2012 we posted a reflection on our blog site in which we encouraged readers to grow in love as their legacy of 2012. We said this:
“Give love away as your legacy of 2012.
How can you start? I recommend starting by looking backward at one incident of 2011. Please think of one incident with one person in which you were loved unconditionally, perhaps even surprised by a partner or a parent or a caring colleague. Think of your reaction when you felt love coming from the other and you felt love in your heart and the other saw it in your eyes. What was said? How were you affirmed for whom you are, not necessarily for something you did? What was the other’s heart like, and yours?”
It is now about seven months later. Can you list some specific, concrete ways in which you have chosen love over indifference? Love over annoyance? If so, what are those specifics and how are they loving? We ask because we have only about four-and-a-half months left to 2012. Have you engaged in over half of all the loving responses that you will leave in this world this year?
If you have not yet deliberately left love (or enough love) in the world this year, there is time…..and the clock is ticking.
Today, class, we will take an exam. It is a pop-quiz of sorts, to test your thinking about forgiveness, specifically with regard to what I am calling some of the “myths” of forgiveness.
See what you think.
1. Forgiveness is very much intrenched in popular culture right now, but the interest will fade, as all fads do. True or false?
Although interest in the topic of forgiveness may wax and wane through the generations and across cultures, forgiveness is timeless because, unfortunately, conflict and injustice are part of this world. As long as there are conflict and injustice, forgiveness will burn brightly.
2. For me to forgive, the other has to repent and apologize. True or false?
Although it surely is good when others repent and apologize, these are not necessary for you to forgive because forgiveness is a virtue and no other virtue requires a prior response from another person before you can forgive. Some say that the withholding of forgiveness until the other apologizes is a moral good because this then helps the offender to see the error of his/her ways and to make amends. Yet, no one who says this has convinced me that the reverse is not equally true: Forgive first and point out the other’s offense in the hope that he/she will respond to your offer of goodness and therefore repent.
3. It is better to stand up for justice than to forgive because justice will directly correct wrong. True or false?
Although the quest for justice is always good, this does not mean that we have to dichotomize justice and forgiveness and try only for one or the other. We can strive for justice and forgive as we do so. These two virtues are not mutually exclusive.
4. Once a person begins to show a pattern of devaluing forgiveness, it is likely that this will continue. True or false?
Although it is difficult to break habits, forgiveness education can and does change minds and hearts with regard to the topic. So often people reject forgiveness because they have been so very hurt in this world. Forgiveness acknowledges this pain and gently offers a way out of that pain. Never underestimate the power of genuine and effective pain relief.
5. Forgiveness is a good idea, but it is too hard. No one can truly accomplish it. True or false?
Because all of the other myths were false, by now I suspect that you said “false” to this one. My question, then, is this: Why is it false? One answer to consider: As we practice any virtue, we get more proficient at it. We need not reach perfection in any one virtue to be actually practicing it. We all practice all virtues in an imperfect way. The point is to try, and then as we try, we grow in proficiency in the practice of that virtue, including forgiveness.