The Art of Forgiveness: Who to Forgive?

We cause ourselves a lot of our own pain by not forgiving ourselves and others. This is the first part of a three-part series that examines the art of forgiveness, including figuring out who we should forgive, why we should forgive, and how to achieve forgiveness.

Not forgiving ourselves and others also stands in the way of getting where we want to be in our lives today. We have enough obstacles from sources we have no control over; this one we can control. There’s no reason not to get out of our own way.

You might know right off who you want to forgive, and maybe it’s something you’re already working toward.

On the other hand, you might have no idea what I’m talking about.  If so, consider whether there is anyone (or maybe even several someones) you might want to consider forgiving.

Aside from yourself, consider whether there are people in your past or in your present who are candidates for forgiveness.

In your past, think about the “funny” stories you tell about the kid who tormented you in grade school or the “friend” who used to sit on you and tickle you until you cried.  Maybe it was a teacher who embarrassed you in front of the class. Or maybe you had an ex who cheated on you.

Stories that make you squirm or get angry years later are probably a good source of finding someone to forgive.

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You might also have people who are currently in your life who anger you, and perhaps have done so for years (think: parents and siblings).  Do you duck calls from your sister? Who makes you angry when he or she doesn’t meet your expectations?

Bosses, co-workers, friends — even the guy who cut you off in traffic — could be a good candidate for forgiveness.

Is there anyone you fantasize about winning arguments against?

When you wake up at 2am with thoughts spinning around — and they aren’t happy thoughts — who is featured? Is it you and something you did that you wish you hadn’t?

Spend some time thinking about this and be sure to check out The Art of Forgiveness: Why Forgive and The Art of Forgiveness: How to Forgive.


Comments

The Art of Forgiveness: Who to Forgive? — 15 Comments

  1. This is a powerful message! I serve as editor-in-chief for the Gideon’s Army Jail & Prison Ministries monthly newsletter, and I enjoy teaching inmates about the power of forgiveness. One inmate shared how a doctor had told him that he would die in prison because of all his health issues. He chose to begin forgiving everyone who betrayed him, starting with his ex-wife. He is now well and walking in victory. Praise God for His power to heal and restore broken hearts and shattered lives.

  2. Thank you for this. I don’t know that I had put a lot of thought into exactly WHO I should forgive, focusing more on HOW to forgive. Forgiveness is definitely a key to happiness and serenity. I enjoyed your post and look forward to reading the next one. Forgiveness is also the subject of my latest blog post, and is also one of the “Four Tools of Emotional Healing” I describe in my book of the same name due out next month.
    I don’t know that there can be too many books on Forgiveness – it is such a central issue in most people’s lives. The comments on Linked In suggest that there is still a lot of resistance to the idea of forgiving everyone. Are you planning on turning your posts into a book? I would be happy to share insights and reviews if you are interested.
    http://www.justicesaintrain.com/the-first-step-in-forgiving/

    • Congratulations on your book! I’m reading this before catching up on all the comments on LinkedIn — I’ve been out of the office all day — but it sounds like the topic definitely pushed a button or three! You’re right about forgiveness being such a big issue for many people, and if all that old stuff in standing in the way, it’s hard to move forward. And now to check out your site…..

  3. Interesting to come across this site. I don’t have a real life story on forgiveness but I have just published a collection of short stories called “Towards Forgiveness: Sino-Tasmanian Stories from Two Islands.” The stories bounce between Tasmania and Hong Kong, starting darkly in the dreaded convict prison of Port Arthur and then gradually zig-zag towards forgiveness and light. Forgiveness is often needed when love crosses cultural boundaries. Obtainable from publishers (second down the page): http://www.ginninderrapress.com.au/fiction.html

    • Very interesting, and I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of the various cross-cultural implications….what’s perfectly ok in one culture might not be in another, and that requires great understanding and forgiveness at times.

  4. I found you on LinkedIn and have just taken a look at your site. I love what you are doing, how honestly you speak about issues that we all come up against. I believe many people will be helped and supported by your efforts. I wish you continued success. Regards, Elaine

    • Thanks so very much for your feedback and supportive comments, Elaine! I hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful holiday season!

      • Great article, and I so agree that forgiveness is healing. I hadn’t really thought about it also being a great boon to getting goals, but I can see that makes a lot of sense! I used to think forgiving others was the most important thing, but now I think forgiving ourselves is just as important, if not more.

        • It’s amazing what can block us without us even knowing it….and I think learning to forgive ourselves for any number of things is hugely important in making the type of progress we’d like. Many thanks for writing!

  5. Pingback: Make the Holidays More Enjoyable with Forgiveness

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