Tag Archives: reconciliation

021 – Anatomy of Forgiveness

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David Castillo Dominici freedigitalphotos.com

by David Castillo Dominici, freedigitalphotos.com

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.*

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Mahatma Gandhi**

Many offences in life can and should be easily dismissed.  Today, however, we are talking about the deep hurts.  The deep wounds that significantly alter our lives.  Some wounds even threaten to crush us from the inside out.  It is these situations that call for a deliberate forgiveness process.

 Forgiveness is possible!  (See last week’s show: Forgiving the Unforgivable.)  It takes great strengths and courage to enter into a forgiveness process for deep wounds. 

Before we begin:

  • Forgetting is not forgiveness.
  • Remembering is not unforgiveness.
  • Forgiveness is a process.

At the Hope and Restoration Team (HART) we use an acronym to help facilitate the forgiveness healing process.  R.A.F.T.

  • Recognize
  • Accept
  • Forego
  • Trust

Recognize:

We can start with recognizing the wrong that has been done AND the impact it is having on our life.  What has been the result of the hurt, violation, betrayal, etc.?  How have you changed as a result of those events?

Why?  Because we need to be able to deal with the REALITY of what happened to us in order to REALLY forgive.

Example: I was having a post traumatic response when interacting with a particular person.  Fight and flight was kicking in even though there was not perceivable danger.  After some reflection I realized that this person exhibited the same incompetents as someone who nearly got me killed.  After recognizing this I was able to deal with that event constructively.

Accept:

It is one thing to recognize what has happened and how it has impacted and changed our lives.  It is yet a deeper thing to accept this as our reality.  These tragedies are part of how we are right now.  They do not define the totality of who we are; but they are part of who we are and who we are becoming.

Due to the wrong actions of others my lungs were severely damaged.  I live with this reality every day.  Even after dealing with forgiving those involved in bringing this devastation into my life I have to live with these physical problems.

Forego:

Once we know and accept what needs to be forgiven we then forgoing payback, vengeance, and retaliation is part of the forgiving process.  This does not meant that justice will not take place.  It does mean that we let go of being the executor of that justice.

In this step we let go of any demand for payment or payback for the wrong suffered.  It does not mean we will let the offender continue to hurt or damage us.

Consider the idea of a monetary debt.  Someone borrows $20 dollars and promises to pay you back next week.  But instead the next week they come back and borrow $20 more.  This goes on for a few weeks and before you know it they have racked up a considerable sum.

At some point you decide to forgo demanding repayment for past debt.  But that does not mean you allow them to accrue more debt.  You say, “Your debt is forgiven.  But in order for trust to be restored true change (in your life) must take place.”

Forgiving the debt is not forgetting what caused the debt.  It is, however, not demanding payment for that past debt.  Trust needs to be established over time with evidence to demonstrate change (repentance).

Trust:

By trust we are not here talking about trusting the one (group) that has wronged us.  This should be a goal and our desire.  However, for reconciliation to take place and trust to be restored repentance and transformation must take place.

For me the trust aspect is about trusting God to take care of me.  It is about entrusting the process to the One who is greater than I.  Trust in a God how is just, merciful and loving in ways I can only begin to comprehend.  Trust in God that no matter what the other may choose to do or not do that God will provide, care for and supply all my needs.

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101472.html#8Ke6Q2VSXC4gyPk0.99

** http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mahatmagan121411.html#PhXxeQWq7lUWqJom.99

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020 – Forgiving the Unforgivable

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Photo, "Silhouette Of A Man" by Markuso on freedigitalphoto.net

Photo, “Silhouette Of A Man” by Markuso on freedigitalphoto.net

The concept of forgiveness runs deep at the core of any society.  If we cannot find a way to forgive then vengeance is all that will be left in the end.  But is it always possible to forgive?  Are some actions unforgivable?  What does forgiveness look like?

Today we remember the genocide in Rwanda that took place in April 1994.  This was 100 days of slaughter.  10,000 people killed per day.  In total, over 1,000,000 dead—1/8th the country’s population.  Either such destruction will lead to more destruction or forgiveness can lead to healing.

We will hear from some of those involved in the healing and reconciliation process.  The topics come from excerpts for the PBS show, “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” from April 2005.  As you listen to today’s podcast and look over the note please feel free to enter the dialoge via the comments section.

Facing reality/the truth:

We were hut specifically, we must forgive specifically.  At some point, when we are ready, we have to come to terms with what has happened and the impact it is having in our lives.

“The wounds and the healing is a process that we continue to engage deliberately.”

“To tell people they just can’t cover it up.  We need to be able to unearth it and deal with it head on.”

Benefits of forgiveness:

“Forgiving not only benefits the criminal, it benefits me.”

When we forgive we are set free.  We also open up an opportunity for the offender to find freedom.

It is a process:

Repentance – Counseling – Forgiveness – Reconciliation.  This did not spontaneously happen.  And in order for reconciliation to take place the offenders had to “repent”.  In this they took responsibility for their actions and committed to living life in a new direction.

Sometime reconciliation is not possible.  They offender may not be willing to repent.  They may be dead.  We may not know who assaulted/hurt us.

As a result we may take it out on the group or kind of people involved in our PTSD.  Even if we cannot reconcile with the individual(s) we can reconcile with the gender, ethnicity, or group they represent.

The power of three words:

“You killed my wife and my child.   I will not do wrong to you…I forgive you.”

There is such power in saying and hearing the word, “I forgive you.”  This man captures the heart of forgiveness when he declares, “I will not do wrong to you.”  Forgiveness is not devoid of justices.  Rather it is giving up our right to vengeance or us exacting whatever we consider justice.

Bitter:

First bitter, then…remember Christ’s words on the cross.

“He did not wait for the paint to subside.   He cried to the Father, ‘forgive them for they know not what they do.’”  “The fact that Jesus called from within the pain is a guide and a teaching for us to forgive.”

Willing to repent:

Some offenders may never have a conscience concerning their evil actions.  While others seek transformation.  Especially during war wrongs are due by otherwise decent people.  These “moral injuries” can cause deep pain.  This can lead to repentance and transformation.  Seeing the offenders ad humans can help us do our part in the forgiveness process.

Many who have done wrong to others suffer from fear, nightmares, guilt, and self-loather.  One part of us may say, “Good for them.  They deserve it.”  Forgiveness would lead such people toward repentance.

It is not magic:

We have to continue to work the process until completion.

Forgiveness and your journey:

Next Week:

We will consider specific steps toward forgiving the deepest of wounds.

Where are you in this process?  Do you feel stuck?  Are you ready to consider moving forward?  If so and you want someone to walk along side you on this difficult part of the journey contact me, david (at) HealingTheWoundsOfWar (dot) com

Full video of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly story on Rwanda Reconciliation

Questions:

Why is forgiveness so hard?

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