Ask Dr. Forgiveness
Given that you deal with people who are deeply hurting, does this affect you emotionally? In other words, is it hard to deal with all the pain all the time?
The key issues are hope and passion for the work. Hope occurs when I see that hurting people can be healed. This increases my passion for the work, knowing that others need to hear the message of forgiveness and can greatly benefit by walking the forgiveness path.
Are there acts so terrible that you should not, as you say, give a gift to the other?
Some people will not forgive certain people for certain acts. Yet, other people will forgive others for the exact same kind of act. Thus, it seems to me that it is not the act itself that is out of bounds to forgiveness. Instead, the one who was injured is not ready to offer forgiveness. We have to be gentle with people under these circumstances. We are not all ready to forgive others at the same point of the injury. We have to be careful not to condemn those who need more time or who are ambivalent about forgiveness in a particular circumstance.
I am interested in helping my children learn about forgiveness and learn to forgive. Yet, I am worried that this might force them into forgiving and therefore turn them away from it. What advice do you have for me on this important issue?
A key is to try fostering softened hearts in the children toward other people. You can keep their little hearts soft by talking about forgiveness with them. Do not force this upon them. Let them be drawn to it because forgiveness in its highest form is an expression of love. Let them see this love, experience it, and then offer it when they are ready. You can use teachable moments on forgiveness in the home, such as when there are conflicts between the children. You can point out forgiveness themes in stories and films as other teachable moments. Let them see and experience forgiveness so that they, themselves, begin to see the beauty and importance of forgiveness.
I am in a close relationship with someone I hurt. I have asked for forgiveness from her but I keep getting ignored. Does it ever get to a point that I can demand forgiveness when I know that the other person is just being stubborn?
I sympathize with your frustration. You are ready to be forgiven and the other is not ready to give it to you. You should realize that forgiveness is not something that you can demand from someone. That person is not obligated in an ethical sense to give forgiveness until she is ready. Some religions ask a person to forgive under certain circumstances (such as happens in some of the rituals at Yom Kippur in the Jewish faith, for example). If the one from whom you are seeking forgiveness is under no religious obligation to forgive, I suggest three things: patience, patience, and patience. A little encouragement from you for her to forgive probably would be a good idea, but done sparingly and gently.
My father abandoned our family when I was 6 years old. I am now grown, in college, and he has come around now that the pressure is off. He wants to establish a relationship with me, but I do not even know him. Does it seem kind of phony to now go ahead with this?
It is never too late to forgive. You see your father’s mistakes. I think that he sees them, too. You surely have a right to your anger. At the same time, you could give your father a huge gift of mercy and aid your own emotional healing if you have mercy on him and forgive. It will take a strong will and courage for you to do this. You will know if and when you are ready.