I am feeling somewhat “wishy-washy” about forgiving a friend for something she did to me. My question to you is how deeply committed do I have to be in order to actually go ahead and forgive?
Your commitment to forgive, as you see, can vary from very low to very high. This can fluctuate across time, too. A key is this: Are you ready to commit, no matter how small that is, to doing no harm to the one who hurt you? Also, do you see clearly what forgiveness is and is not (it is not excusing or automatically reconciling, for example)? If you have some motivation to do no harm and understand what forgiveness is, then you are ready to move forward in the forgiveness process.
For additional information, see Forgiveness Is a Choice.
Can I begin the forgiveness process without an actual commitment to forgive, or must I have a firm inner commitment before starting?
Because forgiveness is a process, you do not need a firm commitment to forgive as you start. You can tentatively try forgiving and see how it goes. You can stop for a while and start again. As you progress and deepen in your understanding and appropriation of forgiving, you then may move to the conviction that you are committed to the forgiveness process. One way to start this commitment is to say to yourself that you will do no harm to the one who injured you. This “do no harm” often is the beginning of the commitment for many people who go through our Process Model of Forgiveness.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.
Forgiveness seems like such a “soft” idea. I need to be strong if I am to solve unjust problems.
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 When you struggle to love those who have withdrawn love from you, this seems to me to be a heroic response, not a “soft” one.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.