Archive for September, 2013
I am 48 years old. My parents were both neglectful and abusive to me and my 2 siblings. If they were parents today, they would have been arrested and their behavior had profound negative impact on all three of their children. My parents have never admitted or apologized for what they did and instead created a sort of fantasy story that they tell about our childhood. All 5 people involved know the stories are untrue. Me and my siblings have, in some form, reconciled with our parents and they have been excellent grandparents. The probelm is, I have trouble forgiving them because they often revert to harmful behavior (which brings the memories and emotions flooding back) and they do not acknowledge what they did many decades ago. Is the “perpetrator’s” admission required and is having no contact or relationship compatible with forgiveness?
They “have been excellent grandparents.” This may be the key to your question. At the same time, you say that your parents “often revert to harmful behavior.” Are you willing to write back and give some specific examples of “harmful behavior”? We can keep those behaviors confidential if you wish. I am trying to discern whether what you call “harmful behavior” is indeed harmful or whether current behavior which is not necessarily harmful is triggering a classical conditioning response in you. The distinction between “harmful” and “triggering a classical conditioning response” is very important for us to make because the conclusion may determine whether or not you and your children interact with your parents again.
CBS News/Blueprint for Life website – Mary Johnson, a 59-year-old teacher’s aide was justifiably distraught when her only son, 20-year-old Laramiun Byrd, was shot to death at a party in 1993. The killer was 16-year-old O’Shay Israel.
“I wanted Justice,” Johnson said. “He was an animal. He deserved to be caged.”
And he was. Israel was sentenced to 25 1/2 years in prison. He served 17 years before being released earlier this year. In a strange twist of fate that demonstrates the power of forgiveness, Israel now lives next door to Johnson in a North Minneapolis apartment building–an arrangement set up by Johnson’s appeal to her landlord.
“Unforgiveness is like cancer. It will eat you from the inside out,” says Johnson. “Me forgiving him does not diminish what he has done. Yes, he murdered my son. But the forgiveness is for me. It’s for me.”
Johnson met with Israel several times before he was released from Minnesota’s Stillwater State Prison and eventually forgave him. Now??Israel and Johnson together sing the praises of forgiveness at prisons, churches and before large audiences throughout the Midwest.
Watch the CBS News video: The Power of Forgiveness
How did the quest for power and money become the primary goals of Western societies? What thief in the night changed people’s hearts so that profit is to-die-for? Perhaps I exaggerate, but I doubt it. Do we admire those who work in soup kitchens or those who own the buildings across the city from the soup kitchen?
Do we admire the ones who care for the dying or those who can put a round ball into a round hoop and make a lot of money for doing that?
If we had the chance to be the boss or the servant, which would we choose? And do we ever think more broadly these days: that the boss ought to be the greatest servant?
Forgiveness includes a world view that clashes with contemporary culture. The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, anticipated this shift when he said that the weak forgive, the strong dominate.
Yet, forgiveness speaks truth to power. Forgiveness tells power that it will not last. Forgiveness will abide and be in this world long after the powerful meet their biological end.
Forgiveness as a counter-move to power can actually enhance well-being while power yearns for more, well, power.
Power’s ultimate goal is bankrupt. What will one do once one’s goal of power and money are fulfilled? What is the ultimate point of it all? Forgiveness’ ultimate goal is love, to put more love into the world and into hearts, including one’s own.
A clash of world views. Which would you like to see win?
My cousin says that she forgives me for something I did about a year ago, but when I am around her she seems like she has an attitude toward me now. I think she has not forgiven me. Should I bring this up to her or just let it go?
It seems that you already have been patient, waiting for her to reduce the resentment, but it is not happening. It is time to first forgive her for her unforgiveness and then gently approach her about it. It seems that she still has work to do to completely forgive you. You might want to ask her to forgive you and then wait patiently for her to accomplish the task.
Here is a challenge to anyone reading this: Do you have the courage to live your life in such a way that you deliberately pattern your actions each day to be a conduit of good for others? If you are steeped in bitterness and resentment, it is difficult to live for others because of the pain within. Try to forgive those who seem to be holding you back. They are not really holding you back because at any given moment, it is your choice whether or not to become a forgiving person. As you commit to becoming a forgiving person, your life takes on such amazing meaning. Only those who have tried what I am describing here will understand the importance of this post.