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.
What Is Meant by “Forgiveness and Justice Occur Together”?
In many of my writings, I make the point that when you forgive, you also should seek justice from the one who hurt you. As an example, if someone continually verbally abuses you, it is good to ask that person to stop the abuse.
One person recently asked me if he now must—-must—-seek justice even if it is not expedient or helpful to do so. As an example, suppose you have a boss who is annoying but not abusive. Suppose further that your pointing out the annoyances will harm your position in the company. Are you morally obligated to seek justice as you forgive? No. As with your choice to forgive or not, it is your choice whether or not to seek justice.
We need to keep a balance here. There is no rule that says when you forgive you must not seek justice. There is no rule that says when you forgive you must seek justice.
Instead, use your wisdom and sense of fairness as you ask yourself: Should I be seeking justice in this particular case?
If seeking justice is the reasonable option, it may be best first to forgive so that you do not approach with deep anger the person from whom you will be asking fairness.
On page 174 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you write, “When people are angry, bitter, and self-absorbed, they cannot be creative and open to new experiences. They are bound by their limited paradigms.” This seems like an unhappy state in which to dwell. If I now see this and see the beauty of forgiveness, am I now obligated to help others whom I see as being in this state?
I think the answer will depend on your growth in understanding and appreciating the virtue of forgiveness. Have you so lived with forgiveness that you see it as vital within yourself? Is forgiveness now part of who you are as a person? Do you now think that you have a certain obligation to forgive others, not a grim obligation, but a joyous one?
If you answer yes to these questions, then I think you likely have within yourself an obligation to share what you know with others—-without force or condemnation toward those who are not ready for your message. As you started with forgiveness being a choice for you, it is a choice for others. Please see that and let people have their own free will as you make known what you see as the beauty of forgiving.
Do you think that people who go through the forgiveness process and experience emotional healing have an obligation to now help others to heal through forgiveness?
As we have said on other occasions, forgiveness is a choice of the one who was treated unjustly. Over time, as I write in the book, The Forgiving Life, people develop such a love of this virtue that it becomes a part of them. It is at this point that some people now feel obligated to forgive and to pass that knowledge on to others. If this obligation to help others starts to develop in you, please remember that you have chosen to make this your obligation. Others still may not feel the same sense of obligation as you and we should not condemn them for that.