Archive for June, 2015

When people ask me to forgive, I think they are asking too much of me. Forgiveness is for all of the holy people of the world and I do not consider myself that special. So, do you think it is all right if I just skip this issue of forgiveness and get on with my life as an imperfect person?

As the late Lewis Smedes said, forgiveness is for imperfect people. None of us starts out as an expert forgiver. With practice, we improve in our understanding and depth of offering forgiveness. So, I as an imperfect person encourage you to take small steps to becoming a strong forgiver.

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I was deeply hurt by one of my parents when I was a child. When I think of forgiving, I do not like the idea because it will take me from my victim status. I know it may sound odd to want to keep the identity of victim, but it is all I know. And I am not ready to let my parent “off the hook” just yet for what was done to me. Can you help me gain some perspective on this?

Change is difficult for many people and so you are not alone in that. Your current status of victim seems to give you a sense of security, even if it is mixed with pain. Please think about this contrast: Would you rather keep the security, with its pain, or experience temporary insecurity so that the pain can reduce substantially? Do you think that an identity of survivor or even thriver might be healthier for you in the long-run?  If so, are you willing to risk short-term insecurity to achieve this new and possibly healthier identity?

Regarding your parent, the one you “let off the hook” when you forgive is you.  And in forgiving, you give your parent a second chance.
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Helpful Forgiveness Hint

Many people say that one of the most difficult aspects of the process of forgiveness is     simply making the decision to go ahead and try it. Deciding to walk through the forgiveness door is hard because it deals with change, with commitment and both of these can be unsettling. We are starting a new path, a new way of approaching the world. Starting a new job or a new exercise program, or deciding to move to a new city can all be disruptive, but can lead to growth as a person. So, if you are feeling a little trepidation about your decision to forgive, know that you are not alone. And knowing that, I urge you to go ahead anyway, despite the initial discomfort.


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Closure for Boston Bombing Victims: Death Penalty, Life in Prison, or Forgiveness? U.S. News, New York City, NY – When a federal jury sentenced Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death last month, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh issued a statement expressing “hope [that] this verdict provides a small amount of closure” to everyone affected by the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed four people and wounded hundreds more.

Like Mayor Walsh, most everyone hopes the victims of the bombing — including the families of the four people murdered by the Tsarnaev brothers — can find some relief from their anguish. Will this death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev help them?

Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son was killed in the bombing, don’t think so. They recently wrote an open letter in the Boston Globe urging the Justice Department to take the death penalty “off the table.”

“The continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives,” wrote the Richards, who suffered severe injuries from the bombing; their 7-year-old daughter lost her left leg.

For many victims, feelings of pain and loss may never go away, regardless of how Tsarnaev is punished. But psychological research has found that one way to achieve greater peace of mind is through forgiveness.

Researchers like Dr. Robert Enright, co-founder of the International Forgiveness Institute in Madison, WI, stress that forgiving does not mean absolving an offender of guilt; instead, it means deliberately letting go of feelings of anger and vengeance toward the offender — a way to stop ruminating on the offense and free yourself of the power it has over you.

“It’s a way of saying, ‘I’m going to take my life back because I’m getting swallowed up by hatred,” according to Loren Toussaint, an associate professor of psychology at Luther College (Decorah, Iowa), who studies forgiveness. “It’s an act of transformative empowerment … that allows someone to move forward.”

Read the full story including research results from crime victims on the effects of punishment vs forgiveness:Does Death Penalty Bring Closure?

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When a family member expresses as a couple they no longer wish to be part of the family and has no desire to discuss anything-is it our response to honor that request and only communicate if they do first? We pray and wait. Thank you.

That request is not necessarily their final word. They are saying this out of a sense of hurt. They are not feeling loved. You can and should approach them in love, knowing that they are hurt. Approach them from that position—-they are wounded in some way. I would not criticize them for that. The situation is what it is from their perspective and so your acknowledging their hurt may get their attention. You and others also may be hurt, but if you put your own woundedness on the table along with theirs, you likely will get nowhere. So, humility and courage are required if you approach them. If you can make progress, then in time your own hurt can be put on the table for (gentle) discussion.

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