Forgiveness is an active process!

July 6, 2010
posted by Admin

I recently read an article in the New York Times (July 4, 2010), entitled Unforgivable.   The author’s (Lisa Belkin) main point is that sincere apologies tend to heal strained bonds and foster feelings of forgiveness in the injured party.  If the one responsible for hurting another, offers an apology without acknowledging culpability for his actions, then the offended party becomes disappointed with his apology.  The apology is an empty one.

          Apologies have been flying left and right in the present moment….BP’s apology being one of them…  The current wave of apologies has often expressed regret without accepting responsibility.   If I say to a an individual, “I am sorry that you are hurt”, without acknowledging my part in hurting you, it is likely, according to the author, that you will feel less forgiving toward me then if I made no apology.

           I would agree that a sincere apology helps, while an insincere one disappoints.  However, there is a misunderstanding regarding Lisa Belkin’s notion of what forgiveness is or isn’t.  What do we do when a person is hurt and the offender never apologizes at all?  Or better yet, apologizes insincerely? Are we then stuck in our hurt and pain, with no means of letting go or moving on? In order to let go and move on, we have to make forgiveness an active process!  As long we link forgiveness to any apology, whether sincere or insincere, we remain un-empowered.  The true healing of forgiveness comes when our forgiveness is no longer dependent upon our offenders’ remorse or apology.  Jesus said:  “Forgive your enemies!” He never mentioned that one must apologize.

           I am not saying that fellow citizens who live in the Gulf Region will ever be able to find a way to forgive BP for creating such tragic chaos in an environmentally fragile system.  At this time, that may be way too much to ask!  It is understandable that people are angry!  It is easier to forgive after justice has been meted out; sadly, it is not the way things always work out.  Active forgiving is hard work; most hurts that we endure are hopefully not as catastrophic as the BP debacle and yet it is easy to find ourselves stuck anyway.  The challenge of forgiveness is finding peace even when we are hurt or don’t get what we want!

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