My spouse keeps up subtle put-downs on me.  I forgive….and forgive again….and it keeps happening.  I am growing weary of forgiving. Help!

When you forgive, try also to ask for fairness once your anger is lower.  Forgiveness and justice need to exist side-by-side.  From a position of reduced anger, consider letting your spouse know of your inner hurt from these “subtle put-downs.”  Your spouse needs to hear this so that a change in behavior can occur, and perhaps an asking-for-forgiveness from you.

Learn more at Forgiveness for Couples.

I am about half-way through the process of forgiveness and I now am realizing that what happened was not entirely the other person’s fault.  I “pushed his button” and he got angry.  Is it ok to abandon the process of forgiveness under this circumstance?

Are you still angry with the other person?  If not, then forgiving may not be necessary.  Are you concluding that there was no actual injustice against you?  If so, then forgiving may not be necessary.  If you see the other as simply reacting with a reasonable level of anger and if there is no harm to you, then yes, setting forgiveness aside is reasonable. If, in the future, you find that you do harbor resentment, the starting up the forgiveness process again would be fine.

Learn more at Why Forgive?

What Is the Difference Between Acceptance and Forgiveness?

“Why not just accept what happened to you?” is a question I have heard many times.  When a person is encouraged to accept what happened, this may or may not include forgiveness.  Forgiveness and acceptance are different.

Acceptance vs forgivenessWhen one accepts what happened, this is a kind of surrender in a positive sense.  It is not a caving in to problems or acquiescing to unjust actions from others.  Acceptance is knowing that the world is imperfect and that bad things can happen.  To accept is to stop fighting against what already happened.  To accept is to resign oneself to the fact that the past event was unpleasant, but now we are in the present, away from that event.

Forgiveness, in contrast, is to offer goodness to those who Forgiveness is lovehave created the past unpleasant or decidedly unjust event.  Forgiveness is an active reaching out to the other in the hope that the two might reconcile, although actual reconciliation may not occur. 

A forgiver still can accept what happened, but not then be passive regarding the other person.  The forgiver actively struggles to get rid of resentment and to offer kindness, respect, generosity, and/or love to the other person.

While acceptance can help us adjust to adversity, it, by itself, often is not sufficient to extinguish a lingering resentment toward others.  Forgiveness is the active process for this.

Forgiveness and acceptance: They can work together, but they should not be equated as synonymous.

Robert

Can you give me one example of how an attempt at forgiving can be immoral or inappropriate?

Forgiving in its essence is never immoral because it is part of the moral good of this world.  When you offer unconditional kindness and even love to someone who hurt you, while protecting yourself against further wrong, this is goodness itself.  Yet, when a person does not fully understand what forgiveness is, it is this distorted notion of forgiveness that can be inappropriate.  An example is using the act of forgiving to exert power over the other.  The “forgiver” might constantly remind the other of his or her offense and how hard and noble it is to forgive.  This, of course, is not forgiveness at all but a distortion of it.

Learn more at What Is Forgiveness.

I want to forgive but quite frankly it scares me.  I don’t get why I am so scared to forgive.  Can you provide some insights for me?

You might be scared because you think that to forgive is to cave in to the other’s demands and unjust treatment. To forgive is to offer goodness from a position of strength as you stand against the injustice, bear the pain of what happened, and offer a hand of encouragement to the other in the hope that he or she will change.

You might be scared because forgiveness is new to you and so, being unfamiliar with the process, it is the change itself that is scary. It is like moving to a new apartment or starting a new job. The unexplored is scary until we adjust. Trying to engage in the process of forgiveness will give you a chance to see its life-giving properties and reduce the scary part of starting this new journey.

Learn more about forgiveness in 8 Keys to Forgiving.

Do we learn more from our failures in our relationships or from our successes?  It seems that we learn more about how to seek forgiveness when we fail.

You make a good point that when we fail in our actions within important relationships, we now have an opportunity to seek forgiveness from others and therefore to grow in this process of asking for and trying to receive forgiveness.  Of course, when we succeed in our relationships, we become stronger in our understanding and expression of love.  Thus, both our successes and failures are opportunities for us to grow as persons.

Learn more at How to Forgive.

A New Film About Archbishop Desmond Tutu –THE FORGIVEN

ScreenAfrica, Johannesburg, South Africa – Two decades after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission addressed South Africa’s violent history of racial segregation, a new film returns to that time to grapple with the terrible truths of apartheid and its legacy.

The Forgiven, a film by award-winning director Roland Joffé, is a fictionalised account of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s efforts as the head of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to confront the atrocities of apartheid in an attempt to heal and unite South Africa.

“This is a subject that’s both social and political but also rather personal, because let’s be honest, we’ve all done things in our lives that we need forgiveness for, that we haven’t come to terms with,” Joffe says of the film. “We’re all prisoners of our history, whether it’s social, cultural or family.”

The drama follows Archbishop Tutu and his struggle – morally and intellectually – with a brutal murderer and member of a former apartheid-era hit squad over redemption and forgiveness.

According to the producers, the story is poignant and timely. “It reminds us of Archbishop Tutu’s gift of forgiveness and the healing it brings, and we are honoured to tell this story.”


“The film is a tribute to the remarkable and healing power of forgiveness and the outstanding compassion and courage of those who offered love and forgiveness as an antidote to hate and inhumanity.”
– Archbishop Desmond Tutu


Archbishop Tutu was honored with the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his opposition to South Africa’s brutal apartheid regime. His willingness to forgive those who tortured him, his nonviolent path to liberation, and his ability to articulate the suffering and expectations of South Africa’s oppressed masses made him a living symbol in the struggle for liberation.

The film will be released worldwide on Oct. 5, 2018. You can watch the film trailer at The Forgiven.

Archbishop Tutu, an Honorary Member of the International Forgiveness Institute Board of Directors, is the author of several books including: