Understanding the offender seems to be an important ingredient in forgiveness. Yet, what if I never understand why he did what he did? What if I just can’t understand his motives or his background? Is forgiveness still possible?
In the book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, I talk of three perspectives a forgiver can take toward an offending other person: the personal, global, and cosmic perspective. You basically are talking about the personal perspective in which you see the details of the person’s life so that you can empathize with his or her pain from being wounded by others. When this is not possible, I recommend a focus on the global and cosmic perspectives. For the global perspective, try to see your shared humanity with the other. You share a lot in common: You both need air to breathe and a little plot of land on which to stand. You both bleed when cut and both of you can be hurt by others. Try to see these commonalities between the two of you. The cosmic perspective will depend on your worldview or religion. Can you see a very large picture of how the two of you fit into a divine plan, for example? In other words, again depending on your worldview or faith, can you see that both of you are made in the image and likeness of God? Such a perspective might help to soften your heart toward the other who has hurt you.