Chapter on Forgiveness

Maria Mayo wrote a book called The Limits of Forgiveness which really complexifies how one might wish to understand biblical forgiveness. I have personally found just by asking people how they define forgiveness, that definitions range far and wide. I don't even know how to define forgiveness for myself, to be honest. It's hard to do something when one can't even define what it is to be done.
 
My initial post was to recommend a chapter on forgiveness in a book on emotional healing(Going Through the Journey of Healing by Sharon Lewis). The book is primarily a description of processes and procedures in a model of Christian Healing Prayer. It is an approach to emotional healing through a type of prayer which makes use of a person’s religious faith in the Christian trinitarian (father, son, holy spirit) God. In my cruising through the Spirituality forums recently, it appears that there are some members who maintain a belief in the Christian God. Any holding a belief in God, as well as anyone who was open to being introduced to Christian faith and belief in God (through prayer, not indoctrination) would be candidates for this method of emotional healing. My interest and motivation for introducing this is hopefully to open another potential door for some members, who feel they could, without too many reservations, engage in such an approach, and find pain reduction and emotional/spiritual healing. Three websites which are into providing such services are: christianhealingministries.org look for ‘personal ministry’, they have online or in-person appointments in Jacksonville. healingcare.org look for ‘counseling’ (they want to charge $115/hr. online, if you hunt around I think they have a list of practitioners by state-most are therapists and will probably charge). Order of St. Luke’s, OSLtoday.org look for “find healing” and ‘online center’. OSL is in the process of setting up their online (virtual) scheduled/walk in appointments for healing ministry. To my knowledge, Christian healing ministries and OSL do not charge but usually welcome donations. These are human organizations and thus flawed, but I would like to hope that with patience and persistence, the effort to seek them out could be rewarding. Some other related books are: Healing, and The Power to Heal, by Francis McNutt; Healing Care, Healing Prayer by Terry Wardle; Two Hands a guide to inner healing prayer by Ann Muller. In the bible, blind Bartimaeus’ prayer was, “Jesus of Nazareth, son of David, have pity on me (us?)”. See if he answers.
 

Dan99

Registrant
Always an interesting topic. I've spent a lot of time contemplating forgiveness. There is direct forgiveness, such as when you wrong someone and ask them to forgive you. If the perp who molested me ever asked for forgiveness, I'm not sure what I would do. He never has and I doubt he ever will.

But I also think there is a general forgiveness that is more relevant for me. It is found in Christian teaching (ie. the Lord's Prayer for example - 'Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.') I am not an active Christian, but I do accept there can be wisdom in Christian teachings.

I have found the concept of forgiveness more accessible to me through Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, where forgiveness is more of a letting go of anger and hurt. As a therapist explained it to me, he said envision your anger as a stick that you must point at the person who wronged you. As more wrongs accumulate you must hold up more sticks. It drains me of energy to hold on to that anger, causing me great harm. But what does it do to the person who I am angry at? Most likely nothing. So who am I hurting? Myself.

I regularly meditate and eliminating anger is a routine part of it. I release my grievances on those who have harmed or slighted me. It took a while before I was able to include the man who raped me as a child in this. But eventually I came to make it a general, complete renunciation of anger and hostility. I refund all that negative to the infinite through meditation.

I can only describe the results as very liberating. I often will wipe tears from my eyes when I finish my meditation and the energy I reclaim is definitely palpable.

I don't say that anyone must forgive their perpetrator, even in the sense that I use forgiveness. I have evolved from being someone who instantly bristled at the concept of forgiving into someone who today embraces it in my own way with very beneficial results. I have invested far too much energy in being angry, and to continue only deprives me of more of my life.

Thanks for sharing this topic.
 
When I struggled with forgiving certain people in my life my 12 Step Sponsor gave me a quote I've chosen to live by"
"Forgiving you doesn't mean you are no longer an a-hole, I means I no longer dwell on what an a-hole you are."
I LOVE THIS!!!! THANK YOU!
 

KMCINVA

Registrant
I was listening to Robert Dial today. He had an interesting video--intro

No one has ever died from a snake bite they die from is the venom that is coursing through their veins after bite. Focus on getting the venom out of your veins by forgiving the people who hurt you. You are not forgiving them for their sake, you are forgiving them to heal yourself.

Video

Robert Dial Venom

It made me think, I have let go of the abuser and others who have abused and continue to abuse me with their words. I no longer respond or think of them because their pain is their pain, their issues are their issues--I am here to help but not to be the punching bag as I was for years. Do I still have venom in my blood, probably but I have learned to manage it and not let it control my life. I ask have I forgiven--not sure but life is so much better for me--may subconsciously.

Snakes scare the crap out of me. When I was a child it was autumn and I was walking barefoot in the woods. I stepped into a pile of leaves and I felt something unwinding around my ankle. I had stepped into a snake.

Kevin
 
The subject of forgiveness pops up from time to time and always elicits strongly held responses, which makes sense given this site is devoted to interpersonal terror that produced a lifetime of confusion and shame. We call it CSA but that label is much too sanitary if we really want to express the horror lying beneath the words... horror that comes in myriad ways. We read about it over and over again in these forums. Talking about forgiveness clearly is important on this website because it is brought up so often, but for many of us it is beyond the realm of possibility to entertain the thought. And so we grapple with definitions and clarifications. Given the fact those who find a spiritual dimension to their healing journey will necessarily frame forgiveness within the context of their faith, we will have differences of opinion. Jesus didn't save me so I doubtless will not look to him for help when it comes to forgiveness. That said, I'm very respectful of what other men are doing and this book reference comes from someone committed to his Christian faith. So be it. If the book is helpful in your healing journey I'm very happy for you.

For me forgiveness must begin with finding compassion for myself for all the things that generated shame along the way... behaviors rooted in trauma though I had no memory of traumatic events. This is not forgiveness. There is nothing to forgive. This is releasing shame, understanding that everything that happened before, during and after traumatic events belongs to the perpetrators, not me. That those experiences sexualized me and led to a lifetime of dysfunction in one form or another is a simple statement of fact without any judgment. I'm now healing from those wounds and forgiveness has no place even if amends are in order. I know I hurt people along the way and that amends are essential... but they are means for releasing shame. I don't need to make excuses when I make amends. I'm not trying to justify my behaviors that hurt others. My apology is sincere, but so is my expression of compassion for self.

I understand that forgiveness is intended to release the anger/resentments I've carried... but I can do that without a thought to forgiveness. I can lean into loving kindness for self and other. The perpetrators I encountered along the way have not been in my life for a long time. I have no need to think about them or engage with them. I only have myself and my intention is to treat myself tenderly. The Dalai Lama said "My religion is kindness." I'm content with that.
 
I think your shame releasing through self compassion sounds an insightful and effective strategy for letting go of emotional weights that burden. I'd like to think that forgiveness at its best ideally accomplishes the same. I think 98% of forgiving benefits the forgiver. The book author told me the other 2% can result in a spiritual good for the forgiven on a spiritual level which need not concern the forgiver.
 
Part of me feels like I have forgiven; but then the logical part of me takes over and realizes that I really have just rationalized the behavior of the other person and not really forgiven them. I get that forgiveness is for our own sake and not that of the other person, but I don't think I'm that spiritually advanced yet.
 

KMCINVA

Registrant
I wanted to recommend a chapter (6) on forgiveness in the book Going Through the Journey of Healing (2nd ed), by Sharon Lewis. It is a Christian book on healing primarily for a Christian audience, but I believe the discussion of the necessity of forgiveness to achieve healing is extremely well reasoned and argued, and it struck me as almost algebraic in its logic, irrespective of its Christian context. The author seemed to hold that divine assistance is requisite to effect the choice of forgiveness, but, in that Christians hold God to be Love itself, I do not believe the God of love would deny such a gift/grace needed, regardless of whether a person knew or believed in him. I have submitted this in the hope that it might be helpful to some. There is no intention to minimize the potential challenge and difficulty of anyone to arrive at a place in which they might be able to consider forgiveness as a step in their healing.
I know people talk about forgivness. I believe most forget the most important forgivness is to forgive yourself. I never realized why forgive myself would be the most important step. Yes I was abused, was I living in an place as the abuse controlled and I was being abused pushing me back to the abuse once again yes. I felt I deserved it, why because I thought I did not deserve love. Was I wrong YES. I never realized I lived with guilt yes shame yes. So I was controlled, yes. Everything seems so logical in hindsight but it is a bitch to face. We can get there with support and love.
 
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