How do I know when and if I am forgiving? What does it feel like? I am a young woman from a normal (read: alcoholic, broken, etc.) family. Now, in times of stress, when I know I should forgive myself, or my partner, I feel only anger or numbness. I want peace, and I want to learn to forgive. Can you tell me where to start, and how i’ll know I’m forgiving? Thank you.

This is an important question. You will know that you have begun to forgive when you wish the other person well. This wishing-the-other-well may start as just a glimmer in your heart at first, but then it grows.

Anger is usually the place where forgiveness begins because when we forgive, we react to unfair treatment and our first reaction is likely to be anger or numbness, just as you describe. So, you are not alone in these feelings.

When you start a forgiveness process, please be aware that you are giving mercy to the one who hurt you. You are willing to get rid of resentment and to offer goodness of some kind to him or her. This takes time, so please be gentle with yourself.

As you continue to forgive, this idea of merciful goodness toward the one who was unfair builds and gives you a sense of hope and well-being. These feelings can be strong motivators to continue to forgive.

Do you have some sense of what forgiveness feels like? Please write again if you need more clarification.

Do You Want to Become a Forgiving Person?

R.E.

“I hope you are beginning to see that forgiveness is not only something you do, nor is it just a feeling or a thought inside you. It pervades your very being. Forgiveness, in other words, might become a part of your identity, a part of who you are as a person. Try this thought on for size to see if it fits: I am a forgiving person. Did that hurt or feel strange? Try it again. Of course, to say something like this and then to live your life this way will take plenty of practice. Part of that practice is to get to know the entire process of forgiveness” Excerpt from the book, The Forgiving Life, page 79.

Rodney King Forgives Officers Who Beat Him

NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM –??Rodney King, who became a symbol for civil rights and police brutality in 1991, was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool in Rialto, California on Sunday.

King was 25 years old and on parole from a robbery conviction when he was stopped by police for speeding on March 3, 1991. According to the Detroit Free Press, four Los Angeles police officers hit him more than 50 times with batons, kicked him and shot him with stun guns.

King suffered a broken eye socket, numerous skull fractures, and facial nerve damage in the beating. Meanwhile, a man videotaped most of the incident and gave a copy to a TV station.

Before his death, King said he had forgiven the officers involved in his beating.

“Yes, I’ve forgiven them, because I’ve been forgiven many times,” he said last year, 20 years after the beating. “I have to be able to forgive — for the future, for the younger generation coming behind me, so… they can understand it and if a situation like that happened again, they could deal with it a lot easier.”

After the Rodney King beating, a??three-month trial took place in predominantly white Simi Valley, and three of the officers were acquitted of all charges. There were no black members on the jury. A year later, two of the officers were found guilty of civil rights charges.

As a result of the 1991 verdict, Los Angeles faced a series of fiery riots over three days that??killed 55 people and injured more than 2,000. During the third day of riots, King said: “People, I just want to say, can we all get along? Can we get along?”

Read the full story.

Even Bishops Couldn’t Jump the Queues

In a follow-up to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin (see the June 9 post below), The Irish Times, Ireland’s daily newspaper, gave special attention to the forgiveness workshop conducted by Dr. Robert Enright, founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. Of the more than 160 workshops held during the Congress, Dr. Enright’s session was singled out by The Irish Times reporter who wrote:

There was a bewildering array of topics on offer, everything from reaching lapsed Catholics to justice for the developing world. It is unfair to pick just one, but I was really moved by Dr Robert Enright’s talk. Based at the University of Wisconsin, he is the acknowledged pioneer in the scientific study of forgiveness.

One of his fascinating pieces of research concerns heart attack survivors. Practising forgiveness enhanced their cardiovascular function.

He has also worked with survivors of incest and chronic pain sufferers. His talk cannot be summarised, but take a look at??www.internationalforgiveness.com.

Richard Moore, blinded by a rubber bullet, provided a living example of forgiveness in his testimony in the arena.

Read the full story.

Helpful Forgiveness Hint

R.E.

When you forgive, please realize two things. First, the art of forgiving is for imperfect people and so please do not be hard on yourself if you struggle. The late Lewis Smedes taught me this. Humility can be an antidote to discouragement. Second, because forgiveness is a virtue, please do expect something special from yourself. You can excel in forgiveness and even surprise yourself. Aristotle taught me this.

Without Forgiveness, Bitterness Remains

KHOU.com, Houston, TX.?? A man whose wife and son were murdered has forgiven the killer–his other son–and is now spreading the word about the power of forgiveness.

Kent Whitaker says he was consumed with anger when he learned that his son Bart had commited the murders nine years ago in order to get the family inheritance.?? But Whitaker said he???s turned his anger into a message ??? one he hopes can convince others to forgive, no matter how badly they???ve been hurt.

“If we don???t forgive, then the bitterness that comes from the result of the event stays with us forever,” he said.

Even though Bart has been forgiven by his father, he has not been forgiven by the state. He received a death sentence for the murders and remains on Death Row, but his execution date has not been set.??Read the full story and watch a video.

It seems to me that forgiveness is a good thing when someone has been really unfair to me. Yet, anger is a natural part of reacting to injustice. So, to forgive, does a person have to suppress anger? If so, then forgiveness seems like it is psychologically unhealthy.

When people forgive, the goal is to reduce or even eliminate the anger, not to suppress it. When we enter a forgiveness process, we look first at the anger, which is a way of acknowledging that anger, not suppressing it. Thus, when we forgive we acknowledge anger as a first step to reduce or even eliminate it. Forgiveness, then, is a healthy, not an unhealthy response.