Last evening I finally got my DVD working and watched a program on Forgiveness. Unfortunately I was alone at home, so there was no one with whom to share my distress. So now you are it.
The problem with the topic of forgiveness is that people are talking about all kinds of things. Not just apples and oranges, but throw in some carrots and tomatoes too
So, here are some things that distressed me. One person thought that forgiving meant not getting angry. WRONG. Anger is the first step – well, maybe the second – in a long tough process of deciding whether to forgive, and if so, how.
Another person thought forgiving meant saying what the other person did was all right. WRONG. If you think the other person did nothing wrong, then there’s nothing to forgive. No, forgiveness happens, if you choose it, because the offender did something wrong.
Some seemed to think that forgiving means the lawbreaker will pay no price for the crime. WRONG. You are not the legal system, though these days you certainly do have an opportunity to influence it. You can forgive, relieving yourself of the negative effects of un-utilized anger, without preventing appropriate legal penalties.
And that brings me back to anger. What a gift! What a motivator! The issue is not to avoid or deny anger, but to harness it.
Some thought they couldn’t forgive unless the offender requested it and showed sufficient remorse. That may be the truth for some people, but it has its negative effects. Mainly the loss of power. As long as you are waiting for the person who hurt you in the first place to take action, you are powerless, stuck with your anger and pain.
One more thing I noticed. A couple of people said murder was unforgiveable because the person who was hurt is dead and therefore can’t act. But the truth is, the murder of one person has a wide-ranging effect on loved ones, fellow workers, the larger community. The killer has hurt each of those people. Each one has the right to forgive – or not.
There’s more, but I’ll stop here. My point is that the decision whether to forgive – and how – is a long, complicated personal process. And yes, I did say “whether” to forgive. That’s the point.
And as I see people wrestling with these problems, I can’t help wanting to make sure they are aware of my two books on forgiving. The point in both of them is to help readers make their own decisions. No speeches, just guidance through the options and considering the outcome of one’s choices.
By the way, if you decide to buy “Forgiving One Page at a Time,” don’t choose the kindle edition. I tried to stop the publisher from turning it into a kindle book. It won’t work, because it really is fashioned as a diary with some points and questions on the left hand page and a place for your own entries on the right.
One last thing. If you have an opinion about either of the books, please do share it in the comment section.