Love them? Really? Pray for them?
In his book, “Forgive for Good”, Dr. Fred Luskin lists 11 definitions of what forgiveness is and 7 definitions of what forgiveness is not.
In her book, “Forgiving the Unforgivable”, Beverly Flanigan, MSSW, defines how betrayal of people we trust shatter our core beliefs and concept of right and wrong and create unforgivable injuries.
Dr. Klimes in his work on forgiveness has identified 5 steps for “Granting the Gift of Forgiveness.”
There is more and more research and researchers who have written about forgiveness as a necessary ingredient for emotional, physical and spiritual health.
Unforgiveness creates a destructive force in our lives. Within its tenets we find hatred, rage, and revenge – all corrosive and self-destructing emotional reactions to life.
Research studies show that “forgiveness leads to less stress” and fewer health problems. When we fail to forgive, that unforgiveness may be a greater risk factor for heart disease than hostility.
Centuries ago, biblical writers spoke to this need. Christ taught us not only to forgive but to do good things to them who hate us and pray for them.
When we pray that good things happen to the person who has done bad things to us, we are intentionally turning harmful things around so that healing can occur. It is not just a biblical command, it is science telling us why and how.
Forgiveness is not a way for an offender to get off the hook, be pardoned or otherwise not be held accountable for any wrong doing. Neither is it a way to minimize or deny that you have been hurt. In forgiveness we are able to make appropriate boundaries as well as open the door for potential reconciliation.
Forgiveness is primarily for the person who has been injured. It is a way for the injured to reclaim their life and turn it into something positive.
Sometimes, that injury can be so egregious there are no words to describe it other than “unforgivable”. It has changed your life forever.
The injury may have been the result of a destructive childhood filled with abuse, rejection and abandonment and confusing messages. It may be an insult to your character by a loyal friend or colleague that has had long lasting consequences. It may have been the murder of your child, an accident caused by alcohol or drugs that has taken away a loved one or imprisoned you forever in a wheelchair. There are many injustices whose consequences last a lifetime.
Forgiveness is for you.
It is a complicated, difficult and almost an insane thing to ask of someone who has been wronged. Yet forgiveness is for you.
Without forgiveness you are stuck – and so is the person who wronged you. Forgiveness opens the door to possibility. It allows your energy to flow again in a positive, constructive manner. It is not easy. It is not something you accomplish overnight.
Forgiveness is a choice.
Forgiveness is a “journey” – a way to “reshape” our lives after we have been injured. It is not easy. It takes courage. It is a choice. Without that choice we put ourselves in a prison with a locked door and throw away the key. The key to that prison is forgiveness.
To learn more about forgiveness visit the following site established by Dr. Klimes, founder and president of the Klimes Institute of Continuing Education: http://cecourses.org/ethics/care-ethics/free-to-forgive/
Also, you may want to read “Forgiving the Unforgivable” by Beverly Flanigan, MSSW, published by Wiley Publishing, Inc., NY, NY, 1992.
“Forgive for Good”, by Dr. Fred Luskin, Harper San Francisco, A Division of HarperCollinsPublisher, 2003. http://www.learningtoforgive.com/about/
Bible quotation from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, NY, Oxford University Press