forgiving others


#1

I heard on Catholic radio that forgiving others involves two things:
[list]
*]Praying for their souls
*]a cordial greeting
[/list]Is that it?

No warm fuzzy?

Have I been beating myself up for nothing because I still feel the pain inflicted by another and can’t pretend that unremorseful actions speak louder than remorseful words?


#2

One of the reasons that God tells us to forgive, is for our own good. Carrying around anger and hatred or even just bad memories, can stunt our growth as human beings. We can get stuck in a victim role, which can really hurt our perception of life.

Forgiveness does not always mean that you have to invite the person over for dinner. If the person is a danger to you or just not nice, then forgiveness can mean simply letting go of your bad feelings toward them.


#3

I think it’s also important to remember that we can’t completely control our feelings. If I’m angry at someone, I have a choice of either dwelling on my anger and encouraging it or of forgiving the person and being willing to let go of my anger. It might take some time before the angry feeling actually goes away, but I think forgiveness really comes when we want it to go away and we decide not to dwell in it. I’ve also found that once I make an act of the will to forgive someone, the anger does eventually go away. Sometimes it takes a few minutes, sometimes it takes a few days, and occasionally it’s taken a few months, but it does go away.


#4

[quote=deb1]Forgiveness does not always mean that you have to invite the person over for dinner. If the person is a danger to you or just not nice, then forgiveness can mean simply letting go of your bad feelings toward them. [/font]
[/quote]

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

I agree that not forgiving someone kills you from the inside out.

I guess my question is more about re-establishing trust with the offender. I wish no one harm and can forgive according to the guidelines I heard on Catholic Radio. But—

How does one keep the self defense instinct from kicking in, especially when the offender cheerfully brings up the offense? Repeatedly. Sometimes I feel as if this person is trying to force a retalliation from me, so that he or she is the victim.

I also heard somewhere else that forgiving others precludes remorse by the offender.

I know that when I ask for forgiveness of a sin from God, I’m not constantly reminding him how much fun the sin was.


#5

Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Does this work for repeated offenses of the same thing? This gets kinda tricky when you think about “turn the other cheek”


#6

[quote=mark a]Thanks for your thoughtful response.

Does this work for repeated offenses of the same thing? This gets kinda tricky when you think about “turn the other cheek”
[/quote]

IIf someone is still hurting you, don’t go around that person. If they are a repeat offender, avoid them like the plague


#7

Can you discuss this with the person? Can you tell them that you don’t want to hear any more about the situation that caused the wound?

Can you relate your situation to the person in the way that you previously stated it - that when you ask God for forgiveness, you don’t keep reminding Him how much fun it was? That you’re trying very hard to let it go but that s/he keeps pulling off the scab?

Maybe this going to have to be something between you and God. “God, you know I’m trying to let it go, but here s/he comes, rubbing salt in the old wound. Please let me understand why s/he seems to want to keep this wound open and give me the strength and insight to deal with this situation the way that you want me to.”

Is it possible to avoid this person completely? Kinda sounds poisonous from what you’ve said. Psychologically toxic, you know?

Elizabeth


#8

If this is someone you can’t avoid (such as a family member), it is still possible to forgive him or her. The person it took me months not to be angry with was a member of my family who repeatedly did hurtful things. I don’t know how similar my situation was to yours, but I’ll try to give some advice from my own experience.
If possible, avoid this person, as others have said. If it is not possible, prepare for contact with this person with prayer. You might want to pray for help in spiritual battle (the St. Michael prayer is a good one), for God to help you in your struggle to forgive, and for God to bring the other person to an understanding of his/her own actions.
This might be a situation where you have to forgive seventy times seven times. Each time you are tempted to be angry and to nurture your anger, you could try praying something like this: “Lord, I want to forgive this person. This person is making me angry, but I will choose to follow You in this rather than giving in to my anger. Please give me the strength and grace I need to choose to forgive.”


#9

"How does one keep the self defense instinct from kicking in, especially when the offender cheerfully brings up the offense? Repeatedly. Sometimes I feel as if this person is trying to force a retalliation from me, so that he or she is the victim. "

Has this person asked your forgiveness for the original offense?

If not, it’s possible that he/she is unaware of your pain. In that case, you must gather up your courage and your charity, and tell them.

If they have - if the person knows they have wronged you - you might charitably ask them, “Do you think that going to confession might help you stop bringing this up?”

(I had to work to get that question to be as charitable as it is; I think it still may be lacking.)

Or, perhaps, “You know the saying, ‘Hate the sin, and love the sinner?’ Having you bring this up so often is making it hard for me to separate the two.”

There are times when being charitable doesn’t work. Sometimes one is taken for a sucker; sometimes the person simply can’t hear you. (Like people who honestly can’t take a hint.)

In that case, I think you are allowed to respond to the offensive remark by saying something quite direct, like, “Oh - shut - UP! The subject is CLOSED!”

You could even quote yourself, and say “I know that when I ask for forgiveness of a sin from God, I’m not constantly reminding him how much fun the sin was.”

God bless you!


#10

Dear friend

It sounds to me as if the person who has sinned against you is a little bit incredulous at your graciousness towards them. It appears without knowing both of you, that they broach the subject repeatedly because though you say you have forgiven them, they are not completely convinced. This is most certainly because they have not forgiven themselves. They remain embarrassed and joking is a way to eleviate their pain over what they have done to you.

I suspect they keep raising the sin over and over again in a joking manner because they do expect you to be angry at them or they need you to minimalise the sin and joke along with them in order for them to drop the situation and accept your forgiveness.

I would not fall into this. I would not joke about what they did to you. I would state it is no laughing matter, but the fact you do not laugh about it doesn’t mean you have not forgiven them. Express clearly that you have forgiven them, show mercy to them and kindness. In this explain that you hate sin because it is such an offence to God, but that you love this person as a good friend and you hope that they will respect your wishes and not keep bringing this up because as far as you are concerned, you have forgiven and forgotten this sin.

There is no need for self-defence. You lay it down as it is and if they do not accept it, that is for them to reconcile within themselves. I suspect this person despite all outward appearance may be suffering from a poor self-image or self-esteem and finds it hard to forgive themselves. I most certainly would not say that to them. I would suggest they speak to their Priest, if they are Catholic.

I am going to say a prayer to the Holy Spirit that this situation is resolved between your two hearts and you can remain to some extent amicable with the person who has sinned against you and God.

God Bless you and much love and peace to you

Teresa


#11

I don’t know the person or the situation you are referring to but if they bring it up again (throwing it in your face), try saying "I have already forgiven you for that. Maybe you need to forgive yourself."
If they act surprised and say they don’t know what you mean or imply that they don’t need forgiveness, then you could say "The fact that you keep bringing it up makes me wonder if you do need to find forgiveness for yourself."
Having a response planned is kind of like having armor on. Praying the St. Michael prayer ahead of time as someone else recommended is also very helpful. :tiphat:


#12

Thanks for your thoughts.

[quote=Ruthie][font=Comic Sans MS]Has this person asked your forgiveness for the original offense?
[/quote]

[/font]

Yes.

[font=Comic Sans MS]

[font=Comic Sans MS][font=Comic Sans MS]If not, it’s possible that he/she is unaware of your pain. In that case, you must gather up your courage and your charity, and tell them.[/font]

[/font][/font]

It seemed sincere at the time, but within a few weeks, the subject was brought up again (not by me, I avoid it). I asked that it not be brought up again. A couple more months, then brought up again. A year goes by, then a similar offense, etc., etc.

[font=Comic Sans MS]if the person knows they have wronged you - you might charitably ask them, “Do you think that going to confession might help you stop bringing this up?” (I had to work to get that question to be as charitable as it is; I think it still may be lacking.)

[/font]

[font=Comic Sans MS]Claims to have confessed. (I didn’t bring it up.)[/font]

[font=Comic Sans MS] (Like people who honestly can’t take a hint.)[/font]

In that case, I think you are allowed to respond to the offensive remark by saying something quite direct, like, “Oh - shut - UP! The subject is CLOSED!”

Your suggestion is much more charitable than I was. I really let the explatives fly. Although I am sorry for the language, I’m really finding it hard to be sorry for allowing anger get the best of me.

Thanks again.


#13

Thanks so much.

[quote=springbreeze]It sounds to me as if the person who has sinned against you is a little bit incredulous at your graciousness towards them.
[/quote]

I gotta admit I wasn’t exactly gracious. The subject came up around others several times in a “joking” manner that was really embarassing and belittling toward me. One partiucular time I let 'em have it right between the eyes with both barrels.

It appears without knowing both of you, that they broach the subject repeatedly because though you say you have forgiven them, they are not completely convinced.

The first couple of times, I felt very forgiving. It’s getting more and more difficult now.

This is most certainly because they have not forgiven themselves. They remain embarrassed and joking is a way to eleviate their pain over what they have done to you.

I suspect they keep raising the sin over and over again in a joking manner because they do expect you to be angry at them or they need you to minimalise the sin and joke along with them in order for them to drop the situation and accept your forgiveness.

After his repeatedly bringing up the subject, I suspect it’s an ego trip for him now. There seems to be a certain joy or giddiness present.

I suspect this person despite all outward appearance may be suffering from a poor self-image or self-esteem and finds it hard to forgive themselves.

That’s food for thought. I’ll need to chew on this a while.

I am going to say a prayer to the Holy Spirit that this situation is resolved between your two hearts and you can remain to some extent amicable with the person who has sinned against you and God.

A thousand thanks.


#14

[quote=Blanka]If they act surprised and say they don’t know what you mean or imply that they don’t need forgiveness, then you could say “The fact that you keep bringing it up makes me wonder if you do need to find forgiveness for yourself.”
[/quote]

Sounds good. I’ll test drive it next episode.

Having a response planned is kind of like having armor on. Praying the St. Michael prayer ahead of time as someone else recommended is also very helpful.

Maybe a planned response will help me curb my language if I think I’m gonna go postal. Thanks for your help.


#15

[quote=ElizabethJoy]Maybe this going to have to be something between you and God. “God, you know I’m trying to let it go, but here s/he comes, rubbing salt in the old wound. Please let me understand why s/he seems to want to keep this wound open and give me the strength and insight to deal with this situation the way that you want me to.”
[/quote]

Thanks. I’m beginning to think that the scenario you described is probably how this will play out.


#16

Thanks for your personal insight.

[quote=Grace and Glory]If this is someone you can’t avoid (such as a family member), it is still possible to forgive him or her. The person it took me months not to be angry with was a member of my family who repeatedly did hurtful things. I don’t know how similar my situation was to yours, but I’ll try to give some advice from my own experience.
If possible, avoid this person, as others have said. If it is not possible, prepare for contact with this person with prayer. You might want to pray for help in spiritual battle (the St. Michael prayer is a good one), for God to help you in your struggle to forgive, and for God to bring the other person to an understanding of his/her own actions.
This might be a situation where you have to forgive seventy times seven times. Each time you are tempted to be angry and to nurture your anger, you could try praying something like this: “Lord, I want to forgive this person. This person is making me angry, but I will choose to follow You in this rather than giving in to my anger. Please give me the strength and grace I need to choose to forgive.”
[/quote]

I’m losing the will to be forgiving a little more each time he brings up the subject or by doing something similar.

The tension is bad enough, but I worry about the damage to my own soul by feeling less forgiving. That’s the reason for my original question.

Can I bite his head off on the 491st time?


#17

[quote=deb1]IIf someone is still hurting you, don’t go around that person. If they are a repeat offender, avoid them like the plague
[/quote]

That would be my “normal” approach, but it’s practically impossible. I guess this makes it more difficult than normal.

I have never thought about things this way, but I’m starting to realize it’s much easier to forgive someone you have little contact with than to forgive someone in the situation I have.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.


#18

I found my cousin’s address and mailed the letter I had written to her.

It has only been a week since I mailed it, but I haven’t had it returned to me for a bad addy or directly refused by my cousin. If she tossed in the trash, well, that is her choice.

Also she may have to take some time to write her response. I sent four page 1.5 line spaced letter to her. I spelled out the death and other difficult moments to her to let her know just where I was coming from back then.

I didn’t want to deal with her apology at the time, it was the day of my daughter’s funeral and she was still making the whole problem me being too selfish and she was a wounded little child. Yea, right. (“But you’re my big sister” is what she said when I told her it was inappropriate to call on me for marital advice at a time like that.)

She was always a black hole of emitional need and never cared for my advice anyway. So, I happily lived without her in my life since then.

I ended up realizing that something my grief counselor said about it taking about 5 years to find one’s new normal state and it will be five years this August.

So, I wrote an apology – in the more classical sense of the word – and offered her my regrets for what has happened.

I don’t know what will come of it, but I have made a sincere attempt to mend our relationship.


#19

Mark,
You’ve had great advice so far, particularly praying the prayer to St. Michael the archangel, and asking the Holy Spirit to guide you through these interactions, and to reveal what course of action He would like you to take.

In similar situations, I have found myself getting angry out of hurt with close friends. Ultimately I have taken this anger to confession . Granted it was reasonable that I get angry at this situation, but did this anger drive a wedge between me and the Holy Spirit? (absolutely yes!)

You may not be able to affect this persons actions, and the best course of action may be to avoid them. But if that is impossible, keep focusing on your own reactions, and how they conform to or distance yourself from the Image of Christ which you would like to conform yourself to.

Just today, I wound up having a conversation with myself, replaying the way in which this certain person had hurt me, and all the ways which I could (charitably :o ) inform that person just how much they had hurt me. And I felt so righteous in each of these imaginary conversations. Because I was the victim, by golly.

Well, it got out of hand and I was just getting angrier and I finally appealed to St. Michael and decided to go to confession, and the anger finally melted away. Is that person still wrong? Yes, but I can’t control that. I can control what I allow them to do to me.

my very small 2 cents.


#20

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