Forgiveness Conversations Table of Contents Introduction Session One – Forgiveness Defined Session Two – A Model of Forgiveness Session Three – The Anatomy of an Apology Session Four – Quotations on Forgiveness Session Five – Forgiveness on the Silver Screen Session Six – A Theory of Forgiveness Session Seven – Forgiveness Stories Appendices References
Introduction The Evolution of an Offense ▪ You are offended. ▪ The offender crossed a line. ▪ Carelessly, mistakenly, naively, unknowingly or purposely. ▪ When a line is crossed there’s a weight and burden transferred from offender to offended. ▪ You have acquired a debt … owed by the offender. ▪ All this through no choice … desire … wish … want or will of your own … you did not ask for this. ▪ Regardless … you are now connected and in bondage with the offender … because you share in the weight of the debt that was transferred to you and the burden that you somehow acquired.
Introduction … The Evolution of an Offense Some describe it as weight, others as a prison or a knot that resists untying. Day and night you look for relief, for a window to escape from the confines of the prison, a release from the bind you are in. You are offended on at least two counts: One: … that the offender crossed the line and Two: …that you are now in league with the offender who put this weight on your shoulders and are now stuck with a debt that is owed by the offender and the debt is not being attended to or settled “ I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits that strict justice.” Abraham Lincoln
Introduction … The Evolution of an Offense You have two options: ▪ One … Make the offender pay so that the debt is borne by the offender. In this way you extract the justified debt from the offender through due process of law or by an act of revenge in an attempt to even the score by personal retaliation. ▪ Two … In your search for justice, when the entitled payment for debt is not forthcoming, show respect for yourself by absorbing the debt and cancelling the debt. And as you painfully carry the debt of the offense on your own shoulders you acknowledge that the demands of justice have been met. The offender then owes you nothing. “In every act of mercy the one who is merciful absorbs the debt of the one to whom mercy is shown.” T. Keller
Those Who Benefit Most From These Sessions Have a question, issue, story or idea regarding forgiveness which is kept in mind as the sessions go on. Express a “take-away value” at the conclusion of each session. Keep a journal in which to develop one or two ideas which have surfaced in the sessions. “Always forgive your enemies, Nothing annoys them so much.” Oscar Wilde ____________________________________________________________________________________
Giving and Receiving Forgiveness: Six Directions of Forgiving Forgiving others … being forgiven by others Forgiving self … being forgiven by self Forgiving Creator/God* … being forgiven by Creator/God -------------------------------------------------------- “Most of us can forgive and forget, we just don’t want others to forget that we forgave.” Ivern Ball ____________________________________ * Higher Power/ What Energizes the Universe
Your Interest in Forgiveness … A brief conversation Introductions: Give your name and any other information (below) in regard to forgiveness. As in all of our work, stay well within your comfort zone. What brings you to the forgiveness group? What is your interest in forgiveness? Do you have a question, issue, story or idea regarding forgiveness you would like to explore? __________________________________________________ Note: Tell your own story about how you came to be interested in forgiveness.
Session One … Forgiveness Defined Quotation: “ Having looked the beast in the eye, Having asked and received forgiveness, Let us shut the door on the past, Not to forget it, But to allow it not to imprison us.” Desmond Tutu Structured Exercise: ▪ Forgiving is difficult and involves a lot of hard work. Most people initially resist forgiving while many eventually become forgivers. ▪ What do you feel are some of the greatest impediments, roadblocks and hindrances to forgiving?
Session One … Forgiveness Defined Forgiveness Is Not … ▪ An Event: It is a path, a walk, a way and process ▪ Forgetting: It must be remembered ▪ Reconciling: Restoring the relationship may not be wise ▪ Absolution: We don’t have the authority ▪ Pardoning: We do not want to do them a favour
Session One … Forgiveness Defined Forgiveness is not … ▪ Excusing: Offenses cannot be excused ▪ Condoning: It can’t be justified ▪ Denying: It must be seen for what it is ▪ Settling: Forgiving is not an inferior choice ▪ Feel Fair: It must be just, but it may not “feel” fair ▪ Unfair: If forgiveness ignores justice it cannot be wholesome
Session One … Forgiveness Defined Forgiveness Is When … ▪ The offended is able to recognize and acknowledge a defined injustice. ▪ The offended chooses to withhold authentic resentment toward the offender, rather than respond with justified retribution. ▪ The offended grieves the loss and cancels the debt which the offender owes, acknowledging that justice has been done. Take-Away Value … “My take-away value is …” _________________________________________________ Note: Suggest what your own Take-Away Value is … “As I listen to your stories I’m impressed about how difficult the struggle is to deal with the injustice … it just never ends … it goes on and on”
Session Two … A Model of Forgiveness Quotation: ▪ “When we forgive an injustice We do not excuse it, We do not tolerate it, We do not supress it, We look the evil full in the face, Call it what it is, Let its horror shock, stun and enrage us, And only then do we forgive.” Lewis Smedes
Session Two … A Model of Forgiveness Structured Exercise ▪ Resistance to forgiving is usually our first response when we are offended. There are many logical and reasonable motives for resisting. Some are: ▪ “It feels like I am giving up or giving in.” ▪ “It seems like I’m saying she is right and I am wrong.” ▪ “If I forgive, he will just do it again.” ▪ What are other examples of resistance to forgiving that you have encountered or that you may presently have? ▪ ________________________________________________________
Session Two … A Model of Forgiveness The Themes of Forgiving ▪ Dealing with Justice ▪ Grieving the Loss ▪ Cancelling the Debt “The moral arc of the universe bends on the elbow of justice.” Martin Luther King ”Nothing makes justice just, But mercy.” Robert Frost
A Model of Forgiveness The Themes of Forgiving Dealing with Justice ▪ Name the injury ▪ Define the injustice ▪ Rage over the wrong ▪ “I will never be held accountable for what was done to me, but will always be responsible for what I do in return.” Viktor Frankl
A Model of Forgiveness The Themes of Forgiving Grieve the Loss ▪ Knowledge: know the loss – know what was taken. ▪ Acknowledge: claim the loss – separate what was lost from what is left. ▪ Describe your new identity: include this chapter in your story without making it the title of the book; the loss could be a footnote or an appendix. “He defined himself by what was left rather than by what was lost.” The Story of Paganini
A Model of Forgiveness The Themes of Forgiving Cancel the Debt ▪ Every offense incurs a debt ▪ The offender is not paying ▪ The choice is yours … to make the offender pay … or carry the debt yourself “With every act of mercy, The one who is merciful, Bears the debt of the one To whom mercy is shown.” Tim Keller “Mercy does not overlook the injustice, It looks beyond it.” dk ------------------------------------------------------------------ My “Take- Away Value” for this session is _____________________ ___________________________________________________________.
A Model of Forgiveness Structured Exercise … a conversation with someone next to you Where Are You? Consider a forgiveness issue of your own Where are you on the forgiveness pathway and where is most of your energy focused? Dealing with Justice Grieving the Loss Canceling the Debt “The salient quality of mercy is in offering the offended the choice of withholding justified retribution in the face of authentic resentment.” dk
Session Three … The Anatomy of an Apology Quotation: ▪ “Never apologize, mister. It’s a sign of weakness.” John Wayne in “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon” (1949) Structured Exercise: ▪ Apologizing is never easy. But when we apologize we usually want to reconcile with someone we have offended and/or restore a relationship that needs repair. ▪ Using the template given compose an apology for an offense you are aware of or an offense you committed.
The Anatomy of an Apology The Language of Apology Demonstrate Genuine Empathy: “I hurt you” be specific, concrete and clear … express understanding of the pain you caused. Accept Responsibility: “I was wrong” … this was a moral choice that you made … not a slip and fall … don’t minimize or excuse. Express Regret: “I am sorry” … contrition and words expressing sorrow are essential.
The Anatomy of an Apology The Language of Apology Make Restitution: “I want to make it up to you …” express a genuine desire to do what it takes to make it right. Genuine Promise: “I will not do it again.” … “I know I need help.” … “I will make myself responsible to a third party.” … “I cannot allow this to happen again.” Request Forgiveness: “I know I don’t deserve it.” … “I know it is too much to ask, but could you forgive me?”
The Anatomy of an Apology When Apologizing Do Not: ▪ Explain: “I know what it looks like, but I need to explain …” ▪ Rationalize: “If you look at it rationally …” ▪ Normalize: “ Wouldn’t anyone have done the same thing …” ▪ Editorialize: “Looking at it objectively as an outsider …” ▪ Justify: “With all that was going on my options were limited …” ▪ Excuse: “I was just not myself … “ ▪ Analyze: “The cold hard facts add up to this …” ▪ Describe: “This is the way it happened …” ▪ Weigh the Bad Against the Good : “Adding up all the good I’ve done …” ANY ATTEMPT AT ANY OF THE ABOVE DIMINISHES THE APOLOGY
The Anatomy of an Apology The Meaning of an Apology ▪ What the Offender is Saying ▪ “I want relationship with you” ▪ “My desire is to reconcile” ▪ “I hope to restore our friendship” What the Offended is Understanding ▪ “I am valued and affirmed” ▪ “I’m not to blame for the whole thing” ▪ “I‘m worthy of respect and truth” My “Take-Away Value” for this session is ___________________ __________________________________________________________
Session Four… Quotations on Forgiveness Quotation: ▪ “It is a good thing … to read books of quotations. Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations is an admirable work, and I studied it intently. The quotations, when engraved upon the memory, give you good thoughts. They also make you anxious to read the authors and look for more.” Winston Churchill in My Early Life (1930) Structured Exercise: ▪ Jerry Seinfeld in a “Late Night” interview with David Letterman once described good humour as “density of thought”. Perhaps that could also be said of a good quotation. It reduces a significant thought into a small space and it’s most dense form. ▪ Participants in this session, will each bring their favourite quotation on forgiveness and facilitate a brief discussion on its merits.
Quotations on Forgiveness The Need for Revenge ▪ “There is one major flaw in the law of revenge, it never settles the score.” Philip Yancey ▪ “Where un-forgiveness reigns … a Newtonian law comes into play. For every atrocity there must be an equal and opposite atrocity.” Lance Morrow ▪ “The only remedy for the inevitability of history is forgiveness; otherwise we remain trapped in the predicament of irreversibility.” Hannah Arendt ▪ “Vengeance is the lazy man’s justice.” The Interpreter DVD
Quotations on Forgiveness General ▪ “If one by one we counted people out for the least of sins, it wouldn’t take us long, until we had no one left to live with. For to be social is to be forgiving.” Robert Frost ▪ “He who cannot forgive, burns the bridge over which he himself must cross in order to be forgiven.” George Herbert ▪ “Forgiving does not erase the bitter past, a healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget, creates a new way to remember … we change the memory of our past into hope for the future.” Lewis Smedes
Quotations on Forgiveness Humour ▪ “Everyone thinks forgiveness is a good idea until they have someone to forgive.” C.S. Lewis ▪ “If we practice an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, soon the world will be blind and toothless.” Ghandi ▪ “Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them more.” Oscar Wilde ▪ “Most of us can forgive and forget, we just don’t want the other to forget that we forgave.” Ivern Ball ▪ “If you can’t forgive and forget … pick one.” Robert Brandt ▪ “No one forgets where they buried the hatchet.” Frank McKinney
Quotations on Forgiveness Anger ▪ “You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger.” Buddha ▪ “When we forgive an injustice We do not excuse it, We do not tolerate it, We do not supress it, We look the evil full in the face, Call it what it is, Let its horror shock, stun and enrage us, Only then do we forgive. Lewis Smedes
Quotations on Forgiveness Cancelling the Debt ▪ “Notice that in every option (of offenses) the cost of the damages must be borne by someone … the debt did not somehow vanish into thin air.” Timothy Keller ▪ If the perpetrator suffers, you may begin to feel a certain satisfaction … feeling that they are now paying off the debt … there are some serious problems with this option …” Keller ▪ “There is another option, however. You can forgive. Forgiving means that you refuse to make them pay for what they did.” Keller ▪ Forgiving means … you are absorbing the debt, taking the cost completely on yourself instead of taking the cost out of the other person. It hurts terribly. Many people say it feels like a kind of death.” Keller
Session Five: Forgiveness on the Silver Screen Structured Exercise: ▪ The value of a good story is that the reader is able to identify with the character in the story and gain experience and insight which would otherwise not be possible. ▪ The participants in this session each bring a short story/movie clip and facilitate a brief discussion regarding the value and insight they gained through it. Quote: ▪ “Holding on to anger is like holding on to a hot coal, You are the only one getting burned.” Buddha
Forgiveness on the Silver Screen Movie Title: “A Thousand Acres” ▪ The story in the movie is about a western rancher with three daughters, Jenny, Rose and Caroline. The father had abused the oldest two daughters. The clip we see is a hospital scene at the conclusion of the movie where Rose is dying of cancer. Jenny is by her side as Rose is maintaining that her only claim to anything significant in life was that she “refused to forgive the unforgivable”.
Forgiveness on the Silver Screen Questions to Ponder ▪ Rose, with great caution concludes, “I do not have any accomplishments … I didn’t get to be a great farmer … I was not a good wife … but what I did … and all I have is that I saw … without being afraid … and without turning away … and that I did not forgive the unforgivable … that’s my sole, solitary and only accomplishment … that’s something isn’t it?” ▪ What could Rose genuinely have believed she had accomplished by “not forgiving the unforgivable.” ▪ Rose asked Jenny to tell Caroline “the truth about daddy”. Jenny admits to not telling Caroline because the “truth about daddy” would not have been Rose’ truth. How did Jenny’s “truth” likely differ from Rose’ truth?
Forgiveness on the Silver Screen My “Take-Away Value” for this session is ________________________ ____________________________________________________________ -------------------------------------------------- Note: … some take-away values of my own ▪ “Refusing to forgive the unforgivable is a choice.” ▪ “We need to honour our client’s choices as they choose not to forgive.” ▪ “Rose’ resistance to forgiving is the key to her resolution to not forgive.”
Session Six … A Theory of Forgiveness Quote: ▪ “Of all creatures that were made, he [man] is the most detestable. Of the entire brood he is the only one – the solitary one that possesses malice. That is the basest of all instincts, passions, vices … he is the only creature that inflicts pain for sport, knowing it to be pain.” Samuel Clemens in The Autobiography of Mark Twain ▪ “The essence of human existence lies in the stance [one] takes toward a fate [that] cannot be changed … when we have been hurt by or have hurt others … Retaliation and revenge is one option. Forgiveness of ourselves and others is another. Whichever we choose, each of us must respond … by being responsible … Forgiveness and the peace it brings, may be the most responsible choice that we … can make.” Beverly Flanigan in Forgiving Yourself
A Theory of Forgiveness We are social beings. We know and recognize just and fair behavior and practices. Our knowledge of justice is not consistently reflected in our behavior. We offend others and are offended by others. Every offense incurs a loss and a debt. Retributive Justice attends to the debt which the offender owes society. ▪ The offender pays the debt to the court. ▪ When satisfied with the payment received the court cancels the debt owed. ▪ The offender is freed of his debt to society and thus justice is served. “He who forgives takes upon himself the debt of the injustice that has been done to him. Forgiveness … always entails a sacrifice.” Dag Hammarskjold (paraphrased)
A Theory of Forgiveness cont’d Reparative Justice attends to the debt which is owed the offended. ▪ Most offenses cannot be assessed in compensatory terms. The offended has two options: ▪ Make the offender pay or ▪ Absorb and cancel the debt owed Forgiveness is the response to the loss and the debt owed. The Process of Forgiving: ▪ The offended recognizes and acknowledges an actual injustice. ▪ The offended chooses to withhold authentic resentment toward the offender, rather than respond with justified retribution. ▪ The offended grieves the loss and cancels the debt which the offender owes, thus acknowledging that justice has been done.
A Theory of Forgiveness Structured Exercise ▪ Perhaps the most frequent argument mounted against forgiveness is that in addition to the original offense the offended person must do all the work in the forgiving process. Yet, in spite of all the suffering, after surveying all the costs many who have been offended still choose to forgive. ▪ Be prepared to discuss  some of the benefits of cancelling the debt and  some of the problems in making the offender pay. Take-Away Value ▪ The “Take-Away Value” for me in this session was ___________ _________________________________________________________.
Session Seven Stories … The Sunflower by Simon Wiesentha l ▪ Structured Exercise: ▪ While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of Karl, a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated the soldier wanted to confess to a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice … Wiesenthal said nothing. But even years after the war ended, he wondered if he had done the right thing. ▪ What would you have done?
Stories … “The Sunflower” Simon Wiesenthal sits in silence as the German soldier Karl, speaks, “I am left here with my guilt.” He concluded at last, “In the last hours of my life you are with me … I do not know who you are. I know only that you are a Jew and that is enough. “I know that what I have told you is terrible. In the long nights while I have been waiting for death, time and time again, I have longed to talk about it to a Jew and beg forgiveness from him. Only I didn’t know if there were any Jews left … I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you, but without your answer I cannot die in peace.” ------------------------------------------------------- Questions to Ponder What was Karl asking for? … absolution? … forgiveness? … reconciliation? What was Simon’s dilemma? What should he have done?
Stories … The Sunflower ▪ My “Take-Home Value” is __________________________________ ________________________________________________________ ------------------------------------------------------------------- Note: ▪ Well over half of all the respondents at the symposium agreed that Simon had done the right thing by not responding to Karl’s request. Their reasons varied greatly. ▪ I’m wondering if Simon fulfilled Karl’ s purpose best as simply being a silent witness of the atrocities. Perhaps this was the essence of what Karl needed – he needed a Jew to hear him beg for forgiveness. Simon’s verbal response may be over-rated.
Appendix Forgiveness Group Climate ▪ Meeting Five Basic Needs of Participants ▪ Belonging “I’m in a place where I want to be.” … “I’m in a place where I am wanted.” ▪ Trust “My word is good.” … “My promises matter.”… “I mean what I say, and do what I say I will do.”… “I meet expectations.” ▪ Worth “I have dignity.” … “I am respected.” …“My words are taken into account.” ▪ Control “I can choose.” … “My choices matter.” …”My decisions count.” ▪ Safety “My boundaries work for me.” … “My life is reasonably predictable.”
Appendix Some Tips for Facilitators ▪ Keep group size small to facilitate maximum discussion time. ▪ Listen intently and actively – how you listen may be more important than how you answer. ▪ Open-ended questions encourage expansion and a wider range of facts and feelings. ▪ Summarize the participant’s contributions by noting common feelings and themes. ▪ Set firm but gentle limits on participants who monopolize discussion. ▪ Long pauses of silence for reflection are characteristic and useful in small group work. ▪ Model behaviors which encourage participants to respond to each other’s contributions.
Appendix Practical Considerations ▪ Group Size – 6 to 12 ▪ Group Frequency – Weekly ▪ Number of Sessions – 6 Weeks or Week-End ▪ Session Length – 90 to 120 minutes ▪ Homogeneous – Interest in forgiveness ▪ Session Format – Repeated Weekly ▪ Fee - $100 - $150 for six week or week-end
Appendix Some Benefits of Forgiving Reduced Anger Diminished Anxiety Reduced Depression Greater Self-Confidence Increased Optimism and Hope Less Preoccupation with Injustices “Forgiveness is the economy of the heart … Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, The cost of hatred and the waste of spirits.” Hannah Moore
Appendix Outline of a Session Theme for the Session: For example “Cancelling the Debt” Quote of the Day: Quotes are effective cognitive organizers. They encourage the participants to begin thinking about the theme. Structured Exercise: Which focuses on a practical dimension of the theme. Take-Away Value: One thought, of significant value, which each participant expresses to another before leaving the session. Also, the ‘Take-Away Value’ is a useful way of beginning the next session.
References: Allender, D.B. (1992). Bold love. Colorado Springs: NavPress Atwood, M. (2008) Payback. Scarborough: HarperCollins Augsburger, D. (1981) Caring enough to forgive. Ventura: Regal Augsburger, D. (1988). The freedom of forgiveness. Chicago: Moody Carter, L. (1997) The choosing to forgive workbook. Vancouver: Thomas Nelson Chapman, G. (2007) Anger. Chicago: Northfield Publishing Chapman, G. (2006) Five languages of apology. Chicago: Northfield Publishing Davis, L. (2002) I thought we would never speak again. New York: HarperCollins Derrida, J. (2003) On cosmopolitanism and forgiveness. New York: Routledge Engel, B. (2001) The power of apology. Toronto: Wiley Enright, R.D. (2000) Helping clients forgive. Washington D.C.: APA Enright, R.D. (2007) Forgiveness is a choice. Washington D.C.: APA Flanigan, B. (1994) Forgiving the unforgivable. New York: Macmillan Flanigan, B. (1996) Forgiving yourself. New York: Wiley Gladwell, M. (2013) David and Goliath. New York: Little Brown Gough, E. (2000) Infidelity. New York: Avery
References: Heavilin, M.W. (1988) December’s song. San Bernardino: Here’s Life Holloway,R. (2002) On Forgiveness. Edinburgh: Canongate Hunt, June. (2007) How to forgive. Eugene Oregon: Harvest House Hunt, June. (2013) Forgiveness. The freedom to let go. Torrance, California: Aspire Jeffress,R. (2000) When forgiveness doesn’t make sense. Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Jones, L.G. (1995) Embodying Forgiveness. Grand Rapids: Erdmans Keller, T. (2008) The reason for God. New York: Penguin Luskin, F. (2002) Forgive for good. Sanfrancisco: Harper McClafferty, C.K. (1995) Forgiving God. Grand Rapids: Discovery House McCullough, M.E. (1997) To forgive is human. Downers Grove: Intervarsity McCullough, M.E. (2000) Forgiveness. New York: Guilford McCullough, M.E. (2008) Beyond Revenge. Sanfrancisco: Jossey-Bass Monbourquette, J. (2000) How to forgive. Ottawa: Novalis Morris, D. (1997) Forgiving the dead man walking. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Nerburn, K. (2000) Calm surrender. Novato CA: New World Library
References: Nouwen, H. (1994) The return of the prodigal son. New York: Bantom Sands, C. (1999) Learning to trust again. Grand Rapids: Discovery Santoro, J. (1997) The angry heart. New York: mjf Schneider, J.P. (1990) Sex, lies and forgiveness. New York: HarperCollins Sills, J. (2004) Excess baggage. New York: Penguin Simon, S. (1990) Forgiveness. New York: Warner Smedes, L.B. (1996) The art of forgiving. Nashville: Moorings Spring, J.A. (1996) After the affair. New York: HarperCollins Spring, J.A. (2004) How can I forgive you? New York: HarperCollins Stanley, C. (1991) The gift of forgiveness. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Stokes, G. (2002) Forgiveness. London: MQ Publications Stoop, D. (1991) Forgiving our parents forgiving ourselves. Ann Arbor: Servant
References: Tipping, C. (2011) Radical self forgiveness. Boulder CO: Sounds True Visser, M. (2002) Beyond fate. Toronto: House of Anansi Swindol, C. (1998) Joseph. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Vanier, J. (1998) Becoming human. Toronto: House of Anansi Wiesenthal, S. (1998) The sunflower. New York: Random Worthington, E.L. (1998) Dimensions of forgiveness. Philadelphia: Templeton Worthington, E.L. (2005) Handbook of forgiveness. New York: Routledge Wytsma, K. (2013) Pursuing justice. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Yancey, P. (1997) What’s so amazing about grace. Grand Rapids: Zondervan “Forgiveness is not the same as pardon … you may forgive someone and still insist on a just punishment for that wrong.” Lewis Smedes
“In a world of flawed communication Community is possible through Understanding others -------------- In a world of painful alienation Community is created through Accepting others -------------- In a world of broken trust Community is sustained By forgiveness Augsburger Daniel Klassen PhD firstname.lastname@example.org