Just as we love because God first loved us, I think we can forgive because God first forgives us.
I think some people love and forgive without consciously being aware that their ability to do so comes from God.
Saying, “I forgive,” just once is seldom sufficient.
Our thoughts and emotions often bring us back to the hurt.
Empathizing involves identifying with the other person’s basic humanity.
Empathizing often involves placing ourselves in that person’s shoes, thinking about that person’s own history and motivations.In my previous essay, I talked about what forgiveness is not. As I write this, I’m aware that I can’t cover all topics related to forgiveness. What Forgiveness Is Not Let me begin by recapping some ideas from my previous essay, “What Forgiveness is Not.” In that essay, I said that forgiveness does not require that we forget the harm done. Forgiveness does not mean that we must feel warm fuzzy feelings toward those who have hurt us. We who have been hurt also do not need to believe our pain is part of God’s plan. We can be angry at the harm done and yet still forgive the harm doers.And I’m aware that I speak primarily from my own experience, aided by my interpretation of the wisdom found in Scripture, religious and moral traditions, and scientific research, especially in psychology. I also said that forgiveness does not mean complacency or passivity. Forgiveness is not reconciliation either, because reconciliation requires that all estranged parties be united.Fortunately, the more times we decide to forgive, the more we talk about forgiveness, and when we participate in communities that promote forgiveness, the likelier we will be to choose to forgive when we are hurt.Strong habits of forgiveness make us the kind of people who find forgiveness normal.If such waiting were required, those harmed would remain at the mercy of the harm doers.Love is the Heart of Forgiveness There is no common definition of forgiveness in the scholarly literature. It encourages flourishing, positivity, and abundant life.In recent days, I have repeatedly asked God to empower me to forgive those who have harmed my family, my colleagues, my friends, and me. My wife and I have talked much about what forgiveness requires.“Forgiveness” is a frequent topic of discussion in my house right now! Often the first step in forgiving is simply deciding to forgive.We can feel repelled, repulsed, and angry at the pain they have caused.But in empathy, our “hearts go out” to those who have been hurtful.