Archive for August, 2018

Does forgiveness have to relate to religion?

Because forgiveness is a moral virtue and because people of faith and no faith can practice the virtues and can be motivated to grow in the virtues, then it follows that forgiveness need not be connected with a religion.  Yet, some would say that forgiveness not only is your own actions toward an offender but also your cooperation with God’s grace to bring this about.  From this perspective, religion as a dispensing of divine grace would be necessary for deep forgiveness.

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How do you get both parties to reconcile together?

Each person needs to assess his or her own level of hurt and own level of offending.  If each was hurt, then each could practice forgiving.  If each was offended, then each can ask for forgiveness.  It is important to note where each person is on the forgiving process and on the seeking forgiveness process.  They may differ on these and so patience is important.  Finally, I recommend what I call “the three R’s of reconciliation:” remorse or inner sorry, repentance or sincerely apologizing, and recompense or making amends to the degree that is reasonably possible.  Forgiving, seeking forgiveness, and the three R’s of reconciliation should aid in a true reconciliation process.

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 I have reached the part in my forgiveness journey where, according to the Fourfold Path of Forgiveness (cf Tutu: “the Book of Forgiving”) I have to “tell my story”.  How can I tell a story that encompasses 25+ years of abuse? The only theory that I have at the moment that wouldn’t take 25+ years, is to break it down into themes: Manipulative Lying; Anger and emotional abuse; Financial irresponsibility that put me and my kids into poverty. There are of course sub-sets and crossovers. There is also the way my children and my now deceased parents suffered (I know I need to ask for forgiveness myself here).

You make a good point that to tell your story may be difficult because you have had 25 years of abuse.  Perhaps this may help:  Think about your story in relative terms with regard to the length of your narrative.  People can tell their stories in a paragraph, or in a page, or in a couple of pages, or in a chapter, or in an entire book.  Of course, if you tell your story only in a paragraph or a page, then your story will show only general statements rather than specific, detailed descriptions.  So that you are not overwhelmed in this process of telling your story, may I recommend that you try to summarize your story in no more than two pages?
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People in Chicago again are protesting the gun violence there. Would implementing IFI’s Forgiveness curriculum into all schools & Forgiveness Therapy into prison, anger management, drug and marriage programs help with lowering the violence there? If so what else would this help in Chicago for instance lower bullying, cyberbullying, suicides, etc?

Your insights are very insightful and important.  Yes, we agree with you that IFI’s forgiveness curriculum in all or at least many schools would reduce student anger. Once in their mid-teens, many of the adolescents should have their anger reduced and not at a level that might lead to violence.  Forgiveness therapy in the prison system also should reduce anger so that it is not a motivator to hurt others.  Forgiveness therapy in drug rehabilitation programs and in marriage programs should help reduce stress in those who do this kind of work.

The key issue is not whether or not forgiveness education and forgiveness therapy would work.  Instead, that key issue is this: How can we get the attention of the decision makers in schools, prisons, drug rehabilitation units, and marriage counseling centers so that these forgiveness programs are given a chance to be implemented?  In our experience, leaders need to see the efficacy of forgiveness for it to move forward.  How can we get the attention of the leaders?
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