Helpful Forgiveness Hint
As you begin to forgive, please realize that you will be finding life-giving meaning in the process of forgiveness itself. You will learn about your ability to endure despite the pain. You will learn that forgiveness is a friend, which can bolster you the next time and the next time and the next time after that when you are emotionally hurt. You will learn how strong you are because you have faced difficulty and have overcome it with respect or compassion or love (or perhaps all three). So, begin the journey and look forward to finding meaning in the process.
Helpful Forgiveness Hint: Many people say that one of the most difficult aspects of the process of forgiveness is simply making the decision to go ahead and try it. Deciding to walk through the forgiveness door is hard because it deals with change, with commitment and both of these can be unsettling. We are starting a new path, a new way of approaching the world. Starting a new job or a new exercise program, or deciding to move to a new city can all be disruptive, but can lead to growth as a person. So, if you are feeling a little trepidation about your decision to forgive, know that you are not alone. And knowing that, I urge you to go ahead anyway, despite the initial discomfort.
In the process of forgiveness that we have outlined in two different books (Forgiveness Is a Choice and The Forgiving Life) there is one part of the process in which we ask the forgiver to “Do no harm” to the one who has been unjust. This idea of “Do no harm” is actually transitional to the even more difficult challenge to love the one who has hurt you. Yet, “Do no harm,” even though an earlier and supposedly easier part of the process, is anything but easy.
To “Do no harm” means three things: 1) Do not do obvious harm to the one who hurt you (being rude, for example); 2) Do not do subtle harm (a sneer, ignoring at a gathering, being neutral to this fellow human being); and 3) Do not do harm to others. In other words, when you are angry with Person X, it is easier than you think to displace that anger onto Persons Y and Z. If others have to ask, “What is wrong with her (him) today?” perhaps that is a cue that you are displacing anger from one incident into your current interactions.
It is at these times that it is good to take stock of your anger and to ask, “Whom do I need to forgive today? Am I ‘doing no harm’ as I practice forgiveness? Am I being vigilant not to harm innocent others because of what I am suffering?” My challenge to you today: Do no harm to anyone throughout this entire day…..and repeat tomorrow…..and the day after that.