Archive for August, 2019
When you forgive, you make a commitment to do no harm to the one who hurt you. Is this a “soft” response? When you forgive, you make a commitment to bear the pain that happened to you so that you do not pass the pain to others, including, for example, other family members who were not the ones who hurt you. Is this a “soft” response? When you struggle to love those who have withdrawn love from you, this seems to me to be a heroic response, not a “soft” one.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.
Forgiveness is not finished with you yet. How will you lead your life from this point forward? It is your choice. When that story is finally written, what will the final chapters say about you? The beauty of this story is that you are one of the contributing authors. You do not write it alone, of course, but with the help of those who encourage you, instruct and guide you, and even hurt you. You are never alone when it comes to your love story. It does not matter one little bit where the story was going before you embraced the virtue of forgiveness. What matters now is how you finish that story, how you start to live your life from this point forward.
What do you think? Do you think that most people are deliberately and consciously writing their own love stories, in part on the basis of leading The Forgiving Life? Or, are most people rushing by, not giving much thought to forgiveness or love?
What do you think? Do you think that most people are aware of their legacy, what they will leave behind from this precise moment on, or are they rushing about, not giving a moment’s notice to that legacy?
What do you think? Do you think that you can make a difference in a few or even many people’s lives by awakening them to the fact that they can rewrite their stories and make them love stories through forgiveness?
I am feeling pressure from my particular faith. It seems to me that if I do not forgive, I am in trouble. Can you help me?
It is not unusual for me to hear this kind of worry: “Uh-oh, I had better forgive or else I will not be forgiven by God and so I am eternally condemned.” Yet, as I have studied this particular belief system to see if I can alleviate that worry, I find that many people misunderstand these issues coming from faith. In reflecting on the religious exhortation to forgive, I am convinced that the kind of thinking described here is incorrect.
Take, for instance, the Lord’s Prayer in the Christian faith, in which people ask to be forgiven only as they forgive. Taken out of context by focusing exclusively on this one theme in the prayer, this idea seems to be a grim and perhaps scary command.
Yet, in its broader context, it is all about love. After all, the one who is praying begins with one of the most intimate and loving set of words by saying, “Our Father.” In other words, the one who prays is saying, “I am in a loving relationship. My loving Father values forgiving. I, too, out of love, want to do the same. As I love my Father, I will forgive and be forgiven.” This is a petition of love to uplift, not a grim obligation to bring a person down. The motivation here is to love God and to show it by forgiving.
For more information, listen to Dr. Enright discuss forgiveness from a religious perspective as a guest on The Drew Mariani Show, a production of Relevant Radio.
I am a religious person, a Christian. When I forgive, I ask God to help me. I now am wondering if this form of forgiveness is passive. In other words, rather than I doing the work, aren’t I asking God to do the work?
There is a large difference between passivity and grace. When you ask God for help in forgiving, you are asking for the grace to go forward well. You work with the grace; you are not then passively stopping your own process of forgiveness. In other words, people continue walking the hard path of forgiveness, but now with grace, which can make that walk more bearable, more efficient, and more complete. Do you see how you are not passively handing over the entire process to God?
For more information, see Faith and Religion.
How can families persevere in practicing forgiveness? My worry within my own family is that as I introduce the idea of forgiveness, people may get initially excited and then it just fades away.
Perseverance in the practice of forgiveness takes a strong will. Do you have that strong will to quietly and gently and without force keep the message alive that you value forgiveness and would like it to be a part of your family? As an analogy, starting a fitness program is good, but continuing with it is even better. How do people continue? They establish routines; they enjoy the kind of exercise that they do; they create an expectation for themselves to continue. The same can occur with becoming forgivingly fit.
For additional information, see: Learning to Forgive Others.