by OshunWater, LLC, Artist Divine Claiborne
Forgiveness, we all agree forgiveness is important and we need to forgive. How do we forgive? What is the process?
Just saying I forgive you or them doesn’t equate forgiveness. Is forgiveness a process happening over time?
According to Robert Enright, professor of educational psychology and president of the International Forgiveness Institute at the University of Wisconsin, forgiveness is not the following:
· Forgetting past wrongs to “move on”
· Excusing or condoning bad, damaging behavior
· Reconciliation or coming together again (forgiveness opens the way to reconciliation, but the other person must change or desire to reconcile)
· Reducing the severity of offenses
· Offering a legal pardon
· Pretending to forgive in order to wield power over another person
· Ignoring the offender
· Dropping our anger and becoming emotionally neutral
How do we truly forgive?
My forgiveness journey started with releasing my right to resentment, negative judgment, and the most challenging, indifferent behavior toward the person who caused me pain.
It takes time for me to let go of being indifferent toward the other person.
Avoidance is not forgiveness.
There must be a balance of positive energies with this process. At the same time embrace compassion, generosity, and even love toward the other person. It’s not about being right. This doesn’t happen immediately, but once you embrace forgiveness regardless of the response of the person who hurt you.
So often we have forgiveness conditional upon the other party’s response, admission of guilt, signs of remorse. Forgiveness is unconditional. The process that takes place over time involves emotions, thoughts, and behavior.
Enright and his fellow researchers suggest the above occurs in four-stages and developed a model to help people forgive.
· First phase – uncovering. You may initially deny a problem exists. When you do intense feelings of anger, shame and betrayal exist. You rehash the offense and compare your condition to that of the offender.
· Second phase – decision. You recognize you are paying a high price for dwelling on the injury, and consider the possibility of forgiveness, and commit yourself to forgiving.
· Third phase – work. Forgiveness requires you to understand the background and motivation of the person who injured you. You may experience empathy and compassion for the offender. Absorbing pain is the key to this stage. This is the difficult part, the forgiver decides to endure suffering rather than pass it on, thereby breaking the cycle of evil. Forgiveness is a gift of mercy to the wrongdoer.
· Fourth and final phase – deepening. You may find deeper meaning in suffering, realize your need for forgiveness, and come to a greater appreciation for support groups. The person offering forgiveness may develop a new purpose in life and find peace. It is also requires commitment to restore the broken relationship. At first it may be toleration and then evolve to full reconciliation.
This process is used with survivors of incest, rape as well as war.
Yemaya’s nurturing energies work with me through the process of forgiveness. The depth of her wisdom slowly reveals itself as I am ready to receive it. It takes time and is not a fast process, it is a thorough process. In the academic fourth and final phase, the deepening, embracing your need for forgiveness, enabling you to develop a new purpose in life and find peace. This requires much Spiritual meditation, prayer, emotional & spiritual maturity to seek a higher Divine purpose.
It is not easy, it is necessary.
Johnson, C. E. (2009). Meeting the Ethical Challenegs of Leadership. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, Inc.