Tagged: “Dr. Robert Enright”

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.

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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.

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I actually have 15 questions based on recent reading I have done regarding forgiveness.  It seems that there is an emerging spirit of the times which is quite critical of what forgiveness is and what it does.  So, I will address each of the criticisms, one at a time, which I have found for your reaction.  First of 15 criticisms: Forgiveness is a fad creating pressure on people to forgive.

I have a book entitled, Forgiveness Is a Choice. It is deliberate that I chose the word “Choice ” to emphasize that forgiveness as a moral virtue is under the control of free will, not of external social pressure.  You are free to begin forgiving when you are ready.  Pressure from others, if it is too insistent, can lead to a quick and superficial “forgiveness.”

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