Archive for July, 2018
The first chapter of my book, The Forgiving Life, describes our theory, which is based on Aristotelian philosophy with the end point of human existence being agape or service-to-others love.
Lewis Smedes in his 1984 book, Forgive and Forget, instructed us to “see with new eyes” the one who has offended. I talked with my friends about this idea (of seeing with new eyes) and they thought it was just a game people play on themselves. They say that seeing the offender with new eyes is a way to just let him or her off the hook. Can you offer advice so that I can convince my friends that Smedes’ advice is not just a bad trick we play on ourselves?
You can see the offending person “with new eyes” and still say that what happened was wrong, is wrong, and always will be wrong. In other words, you do not reframe the actual situation, but instead reframe who the offending person is. That person is more than the wrong behavior. If your friends see that the behavior continues to be seen as wrong, then perhaps they will see that “seeing with new eyes” is not a trick centered on the behavior itself.
Please give me some advice on how I can keep the love and compassion in my heart for peers who keep repeating offenses over and over, with some of the behaviors getting worse over time.
This is one of the more difficult aspects of forgiveness. Some people ask me if it is acceptable to just forget about forgiveness altogether under these circumstances. I think it is all the more imperative to keep on persevering in forgiving both for the relationship (if you think it is a good idea to keep it) and for your own well-being. With that said, I recommend that you keep working on the knowledge that the peers possess inherent (built-in) worth regardless of their behavior. This kind of thought is not meant to excuse the behavior but instead to understand the truth that all people are special, unique, and irreplaceable. Struggling to keep this idea in front of you is a first step in keeping the love and compassion in your heart.
What if someone has hurt you, but you have never met the person? For instance, I feel hurt by some politicians because of their decisions with which I disagree. How can you wish people well under this circumstance of never having met them and probably never will meet them?
To wish someone well does not necessarily mean using language directly toward that person. You can wish people well by hoping that they are not hit by a bus. You can wish people well by thoughts that you hope they make good political decisions or grow as a persons or find happiness in this life.