Tagged: “agape love”
Is the essence of forgiveness to reduce anger?
While reducing anger is an important part of forgiveness (the deliberate choice to get rid of resentment), there is more to forgiveness than this, particularly the growing in the moral virtue of agape love, or that kind of love that is in service to others even though such service can be difficult and even painful for the one who forgives.
May I ask one more question about the definition of what forgiveness is? I am wondering if offering respect for the other is as strong as offering what you call agape love to that person.
Respect toward someone who has hurt you is very honorable, even courageous. Yet, offering love is a higher virtue. Why? It is because agape love includes service to the other for the other’ sake (to help the person to change the unacceptable behavior). One can show respect for another from a distance, without this challenging quality of assisting the other in moral growth.
Thank you for addressing my question about the issue of whether or not people can forgive situations. I now understand that we do not forgive situations. I have another question: Some people say that forgiveness is “moving on” from injustices. So, is forgiving a “moving on” from the other person?
There is a difference between what forgiveness is in its essence (the basic truth of what it is) and how forgiveness is expressed in existence (what we are able to offer to the other right now). In its essence, which is difficult to accomplish without much practice, an offended person who forgives offers love to the offending person. That kind of love sometimes is called agape love, or love that is in service to the other person.
Yet, the actual existence of a person’s forgiving right now (what the forgiver can offer) can be far less than this. Sometimes all a person can do is to commit to “do no harm” to the offending person. This is not the same as “moving on,” which can occur with indifference or even hatred (“I am moving on because I hate the other person.”). Thus, forgiving is not the same as “moving on.”
Are You a Person of Worth?
Who are you?
In Chapter 6 of the book, The Forgiving Life, Inez said,
“I am a person who has been emotionally wounded; who has stood up to injustice; who is a person worthy of respect and mercy; and who is special, unique, and irreplaceable and therefore cannot be and must not be shunned, disrespected, or thrown away.”
At the very core of your being, do you believe this about yourself? Are you a person of worth? Why or why not? Do you have to earn your worth or is it inherent in you—unearned, absolute, and unconditional? Are you a person who loves, even if imperfectly?
Even if you have a long way to go in developing agape love, you are on your way when you forgive others. As you love them (as best you can under the circumstances), please continue to see yourself more and more accurately—as someone who is capable of giving and receiving love and therefore someone who can do much good in this world.
You are a person of great worth.
There are more chapters for you to write with the help of others as you continue “My Unfolding Love Story.” 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 those who hurt you. You are never alone when it comes to your love story. It does not matter one little bit how the story was turning out 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.
Enright, Robert D. The Forgiving Life (APA LifeTools, 2012). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.
Do I have to grow in character before I am able to forgive? If so, what character traits do you see as important?
This is one of those chicken-or-the-egg dilemmas. It seems to me that as we forgive, we grow in the moral virtues, particularly of courage (as we decide to move forward), humility (as we try to see the humanity in the one who acted unfairly), and then eventually in love, particularly agape love, or that which is in service to others for their sake. Agape love costs the one who loves; it can be a struggle to offer goodness to another through a broken heart. These three: courage, humility, and agape love, I think, are major fruits of forgiving.
For additional information, see What is Forgiveness?