Archive for November, 2023

In some of your publications you talk about “the 3 R’s.”  Would you mind explaining these, please?

The 3 R’s are in the context of a genuine reconciliation.  They center on the one who acted unjustly.  The first R is remorse or an inner sorrow for the behavior.  The second R is repentance or the spoken word of sorrow to the one who was treated unjustly.  The third R is recompense or a doing-one’s-best to restore what may have been taken away.

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If I forgive someone, will that restore the relationship?  I do want the relationship restored.

Your forgiving the person is one of the steps toward reconciliation, but it will not automatically lead to the relationship being restored.  Also needed is the other person to accept your forgiveness, seek forgiveness from you, and be willing to reconcile.  The other person, who may have been acting unjustly, needs to feel sorrow for the emotional injury toward you and change the behavior.  Once you have forgiven, the other has accepted this and now seeks forgiveness, followed by a trustworthy set of behaviors toward you, then a restored relationship is likely to happen.

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Occasionally, after beginning the process of forgiving, I decide I’m not ready to continue. Is that okay? Really, I almost feel compelled to carry on, particularly if I promise the other person that I will make an effort to forgive. Forgiveness is a very personal thing, and I dislike being forced to give it.

I want to politely challenge an assumption you have. You are still in the process of forgiving even if you have changed your mind and decided not to forgive at this time. Occasionally, that process leads us to take much-needed pauses.

It takes work to forgive, so please take a guilt-free break when you need it.

Consider it in this manner. Let’s say you are embarking on a multi-day cross-country bicycle journey. Have you stopped being on the journey after the first day, when you put your bicycle away and head to bed? Naturally, the response is no—you haven’t stopped. You are just at a point in your journey where you need to take a break.

Consider forgiveness in the same manner. There isn’t a race to the finish. Forgiveness, on the other hand, is a process that requires patience and downtime. You have a choice. Resist the pressure to be constantly vigilant when it comes to your forgiveness. If you allow yourself to take a break, recharge, and then go again, you’ll probably enjoy the journey more.

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If someone is unable to forgive, would you consider that to be a weakness in his character?

It takes time to become proficient in any virtue, according to both Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle. Put another way, we develop into more courageous, forgiving, fair, or kind people. As a result, we all have a particular “character weakness” since we are constantly in the process of being more and more perfected in forgiving.

What does it mean to become “more perfected”? As we repeatedly exercise forgiveness and develop as forgivers, we:

1) gain a deeper understanding of what forgiveness is and is not;

2) are more inclined to put it into practice even in the face of severe pain brought on by major injustices;

3) proceed more easily through the process; and

4) finish the process more fully so that, after forgiving one person and one incident, we feel less bitterness and more compassion.

Finally, let me say this: we should be understanding of others who find it difficult to forgive since we are all at different stages of the forgiveness process. A person’s current struggles do not indicate a lack of moral character. Alternatively, it could imply that this person is developing in virtue and is encountering a challenge on this particular journey. This does not imply that the person will experience difficulties with a different person or situation tomorrow. We are all growing in our perfection of this virtue.

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Aside from compliments and “nice job,” what true satisfaction can you get from forgiving someone? I feel like I’m playing this kind of game.

I concur that forgiveness can lead to a sense of fulfillment. I concur that receiving affirmation from others is not the main source of satisfaction when it comes to forgiving. I disagree that receiving affirmation from others is the sole benefit of forgiveness. Forgiving others is primarily about showing love to people—especially to those who have wronged us. I find that practicing this love and then realizing that it is stronger than any injustice that comes our way is incredibly fulfilling.

I concur that forgiving someone can lead to satisfaction. I concur that receiving affirmation from others is not the main source of satisfaction when it comes to forgiving. I disagree that receiving affirmation from others is the only thing that comes with forgiving someone. Being able to love others—especially those who have wronged us—is the main reward for forgiving. I think it is incredibly fulfilling to put this love into practice and then to know that it outweighs any injustice that may come our way.

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