Tagged: “Helpful Forgiveness Hints”
What is the one, central issue about forgiveness that you would give to those who are preparing for marriage?
I would encourage them to get to know very deeply what forgiveness is (a moral virtue in which you practice goodness toward those who are not good to you) and is not (to forgive is not to excuse unjust behavior, to automatically reconcile when the other is a danger to you, nor to abandon the quest for justice). Then I would urge both people to examine the injustices which they suffered in their family of origin, forgive the people, and discuss the pattern of injustices together so that they do not reproduce the injustices in their own marriage.
Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.
Can you give me some pointers for bringing forgiveness into my family?
Yes, please consider three ideas.
First, you can be aware of what I call “teachable forgiveness moments.” For example, suppose you are watching a film in which revenge is occurring. You could ask, after the film is over, “How might the story have continued if the one on whom revenge was sought decided to forgive and then seek justice in a reasonable way?”
Second, you could have a regular conversation, say once a week, at mealtimes in which you ask, “How did it go for you today? Were there any challenges? Did you consider forgiving under those circumstances?”
Third, you might consider sharing your own experiences, at least on occasion, in which you had to forgive someone at work or in some other context. The point is not to pressure family members to forgive, but to show them the way by your example.
Learn more at Family Forgiveness Guidelines.
This 3-Year-Old’s Explanation of Forgiveness is Simply Brilliant!
Kids say the darnedest things. But when 3-year-old Holland, the daughter of blogger Mary Katherine Backstrom, explained what “forgiveness” means, she did it in a beautifully heartfelt and simplistic way. And while kids are known for their outlandish statements (seriously — where do they hear these things?!), this little girl happened to be pretty accurate with her definition, single-handedly reminding us all to soften our hearts a little more often.
I was hurt by a stranger and so I have no clue about his past. How can I do the thinking work of forgiveness toward this person, given that I know nothing about him?
We talk about taking the personal, the global, and the cosmic perspectives when trying to understand and forgive another person. The personal perspective, which you find difficult to take, asks the forgiver to examine the past of the offending person and to see if this person suffered injustices and emotional wounds from others. Because you cannot know these issues, you can move to the global and cosmic perspectives. I will share only the global perspective for you here. If you find it helpful, then you might want to go more deeply and consider the cosmic perspective, depending on your belief system.
In the global perspective, we ask people to see the common humanity between yourself as forgiver and the one who offended you. Here are some questions centered on the global perspective: Do you share a common humanity with the one who hurt you? Do you both have unique DNA in that, when both of you die, there never will be another human being exactly like you on this planet? Does this make you special, unique, and irreplaceable? Does this make the one who hurt you special, unique, and irreplaceable? Will that person die some day? Will you die some day? You share that as part of your common humanity. Do you need sufficient rest and nutrition to stay healthy? Does the one who hurt you need the same? Do you see your common humanity? In all likelihood, even though you cannot know for sure, that person has been treated unfairly in the past by others. You very well may share the fact that both of you carry wounds in your heart.
For more information, see Forgiveness Defined.
I have been working on forgiving someone and it has been about two months now. I still am angry. What if my anger never goes away?
If you have been deeply hurt by another’s unfairness, please be gentle with yourself. The process of forgiving takes time. Two months is not a sufficient amount of time in your particular case. I would recommend the following:
a) Take more time in the forgiving.
b) Examine the different units of our Process Model of Forgiveness. Which of the units
do you think you have mastered? Which are still a struggle for you? Go back to those that are challenges and spend more time on them.
c) Regarding your anger, has it lessened, stayed the same, or deepened in these two months? If it has lessened, are you in control of the anger or is the anger controlling you?
d) Anger does not necessarily go away entirely. You may have some residual anger left over. This is why I asked if you now feel more control over the anger. If so, then your accepting, at least for now, that you have some residual anger may be a next step for you.
e) If your anger remains and if you feel that the anger is controlling you, then you might want to re-think whom to forgive. Sometimes, for example, a man is trying to forgive his wife and he makes little progress. At times in such cases, the husband is very angry with his mother; his wife by her actions reminds him of his mother, whom he has not forgiven. If for now he puts aside the task of forgiving his wife and turns instead to forgiving his mother, this then can open up the forgiveness process more deeply when he again turns to the goal of forgiving his wife.
f) Please have hope that your anger will lessen. I say that because the scientific evidence
shows that as people work on the forgiveness process and give it enough time, anger
lessens to a statistically significant degree.
For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.