Archive for June, 2016
You have a specific process for adults to follow if they want to forgive. Do you have a similar process for children?
Children usually do not have the cognitive maturity to deal with 20 units of a rather complex process. I recommend starting smaller with children by introducing them to the concept of inherent worth: We all have built-in, unearned value. As a child begins to see this in loved ones, you can start to generalize this by asking: Do you think that people who are unfair to you and hurt you have built-in worth? Why or why not?
OK, everyone, it is time to reflect on those good old school days of yore, those care-free days when everyone thought we did not have a care in the world. Yet, sometimes we carry burdens from those days and we do so in the silence of our own hearts. When was the last time that you, as an adult, had a discussion about your days in elementary, middle, or high school? When was the last time you had such a discussion with an emphasis on the emotional wounds you received back then? I am guessing that such discussion-times have been quite rare.
I wonder how many of you reading this still have some unresolved issues from the good-old-days. It is in school, within the peer group, at recess, on the sports team that our current sense of self is shaped, at least to a degree. Sometimes we are influenced by those days to a greater extent than we realize.
So, it is time for a little quiz. Please think about your days in school and see if you can identify one person who was unjust to you, so unjust that when you think about the person now, it hurts. This person is a candidate for your forgiveness. I have an important question for you: How has this person inadvertently influenced your own view of yourself? How has this person’s actions made you feel less than who you really are? Do you see that it is time to change that?
My challenge to you today is to take steps to forgive him or her for those behaviors long ago that have influenced you up to this very moment. It is time to take a better look at what happened, to forgive, and then to ask the question after you forgive: Who am I now as I admit to the injustice, admit to it negatively influencing how I have seen myself all these years, and who am I now as I stand in forgiveness?
Perhaps the good old days will seem a little brighter once you forgive. You will have lifted a silent burden.
Suppose a child was never introduced to forgiveness and now as an adult wants to forgive. What would you suggest for him/her to do?
First, the person should start small. By this I mean, do not start with a person who has been thunderously unfair. Instead, begin with a different person who might be annoying but not gravely unfair. The book, 8 Keys to Forgiveness, or the book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, would be a good guide for beginning the forgiveness process.
If I forgive my own child for misbehavior I am concerned that this is giving the wrong message. I might be creating a sense of entitlement for that child who now comes to expect forgiveness and so continues to misbehave.
As you forgive, be sure to included justice as well. Yes, forgive when you are feeling resentful, but then ask something of the child so that correction occurs. When you ask for fairness when you are less angry, then what you ask may be even more fair than if you ask when fuming with anger.
…….and then on it goes….in the person’s own life….and then passed to the children…..who pass this to their children…….
I have been thinking lately about the destructive consequences of intense, abiding anger. Here is a new thought for me: When people are very angry, that anger becomes a barrier to even considering forgiving…..even to a little degree. In other words, upon hearing the word “forgiveness,” the person’s anger kicks in so that any exploration of what forgiveness is or whether it is worth a try is shut down.
The anger, in other words, acts as a barrier to healing the anger itself. As an analogy, it is as if a person has a bacterial infection and every time the person holds an antibiotic in his or her hand, the bacteria themselves reach up and snatch the medicine out of the hand, preventing healing.
I think there are many barriers that anger presents. First, as mentioned above, it prevents thinking about forgiving. Then I think the
anger leads to anger against the messenger, the one who brought up forgiveness in the first place.
Finally, I think the anger stimulates thinking such as this: There…I showed that person! He cannot get away with
discussing forgiveness in my presence!
The anger justifies keeping forgiveness away and the messenger away.
Perhaps a way out of this is calm reflection on this question: Am I now so angry that the anger is working against my own healing and against my interactions with those who can aid that healing?