You talk of being trapped in an emotional prison when feeling resentment for a long time. What is the best way to get out of that prison? I know you might say for me to follow your process. What I mean is this: Should I walk this path on my own or do journaling or talk with a friend of maybe a therapist? What is the best way to walk that path?

There are many ways to walk the path of forgiveness and I would urge you not to think in “either-or” ways. In other words, why not start a journal and talk with a friend? It would be best if the friend understands and is supportive of forgiveness. It is the same with a therapist. You would want to choose a  therapist who understands what forgiveness is and is supportive of your efforts to walk this path. If you do not like journaling, it is not necessary. The key is to find supports in ways that truly benefit your goal of forgiving.

Your Forgiveness Legacy

Forgiveness is not finished with you yet. How will you lead your life from this point forward? It is your choice. When that story is finally written, what will the final chapters say about you? The beauty of this story is that you are one of the contributing authors.  You do not write it alone, of course, but with the help of those who encourage you, instruct and guide you, and even hurt you. You are never alone when it comes to your love Heart-Forgivenessstory. It does not matter one little bit where the story was going before you embraced the virtue of forgiveness. What matters now is how you finish that story, how you start to live your life from this point forward.

What do you think? Do you think that most people are deliberately and consciously writing their own love stories, in part on the basis of leading The Forgiving Life? Or, are most people rushing by, not giving much thought to forgiveness or love?

What do you think? Do you think that most people are aware of their legacy, what they will leave behind from this precise moment on, or are they rushing about, not giving a moment’s notice to that legacy?

What do you think? Do you think that you can make a difference in a few or even many people’s lives by awakening them to the fact that they can rewrite their stories and make them love stories through forgiveness?

Enright, Robert D. (2012-07-05). The Forgiving Life (APA Lifetools) (Kindle Locations 5320-5331). American Psychological Association. Kindle Edition.

Forgiveness Education Underway in Lebanon

IFI News, Beirut, Lebanon – A long and painful history of civil wars, ethnic struggles, and invasions by other countries has plagued the country of Lebanon for decades. Now, the International Forgiveness Institute (IFI) is on the front lines to help ameliorate the ongoing conflict by establishing IFI-Lebanon, an international branch office led by Lebanese native Ramy Taleb.

The current conflict in Lebanon began in 2011 when fighting from lebanonthe Civil War in neighboring Syria spilled over into Lebanon. The Syrian conflict has been described as having stoked a “resurgence of sectarian violence in Lebanon” between Sunni Muslims, Shia Muslims, the Alawite minority, and other groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also referred to as ISIS).

Since 2011, more than 800 Lebanese have been killed and nearly 3,000 injured. Adding to the unease, more than 800,000 registered Syrian refugees were living in Lebanon in 2013, according to the United Nations. Even though Lebanon closed its borders in 2014, the number of registered as well as undocumented Syrian refugees now living in Lebanon is estimated at 1.5 million.

Syrian refugees eat their lunch outside their tents at a refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013. Tens of thousands of impoverished Syrian refugees living in tents, shacks and unfinished buildings throughout Lebanon face a miserable winter as aid organizations scramble to meet their needs, constantly overwhelmed by ever-more Syrians fleeing their country’s war. Charities have already distributed blankets, mattresses, kerosene heaters, winter clothes and coupons for fuel ahead of the region’s unprecedented storm this week that blanketed parts of Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Israel and even Egypt’s deserts with snow, amid icy and rainy winds. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Syrian refugees eat their lunch outside their tents at a refugee camp in the eastern Lebanese border town of Arsal, Lebanon.

Ramy has already established Forgiveness Education Programs at: 1) Kings Kids Educational Centre in Choufet/ Mount Lebanon for 120 Syrian refugee students; 2) a refugee camp in Shatila/Beirut with two youth groups made up of 29 Syrian-Palestinian refugees; and, 3) at Barja/Mount Lebanon camp with 15 Syrian refugees.

Additionally, Ramy and IFI-Lebanon teamed up with the international organization Youth With a Mission (YWAM) to conduct the first “Faith and Conflict Conference.” The conference involved groups from around the world spending 10 days traveling throughout Lebanon to hear people’s stories about life in the midst of conflict, to see the consequences of war and hatred with their own eyes, and what forgiveness has to do with all that.

Ramy Taleb with students.
Ramy Taleb with students.

“Forgiveness Education for Violence Prevention and Peace Building promotes the  development of knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to bring about behavioral change that will help prevent conflict and violence through the practice of forgiveness,” according to Ramy.

“Our goal is to make forgiveness principles known throughout Lebanon with programs at schools, refugee camps, youth centers and churches,” Ramy added. “Nearly everyone we’ve reached thus far, but especially the kids, are very eager to learn, open to sharing and touched by the forgiveness program.”

On page 174 of your book, Forgiveness Is a Choice, you write, “When people are angry, bitter, and self-absorbed, they cannot be creative and open to new experiences. They are bound by their limited paradigms.” This seems like an unhappy state in which to dwell. If I now see this and see the beauty of forgiveness, am I now obligated to help others whom I see as being in this state?

I think the answer will depend on your growth in understanding and appreciating the virtue of forgiveness. Have you so lived with forgiveness that you see it as vital within yourself? Is forgiveness now part of who you are as a person? Do you now think that you have a certain obligation to forgive others, not a grim obligation, but a joyous one?

If you answer yes to these questions, then I think you likely have within yourself an obligation to share what you know with others—-without force or condemnation toward those who are not ready for your message. As you started with forgiveness being a choice for you, it is a choice for others. Please see that and let people have their own free will as you make known what you see as the beauty of forgiving.

Forgiveness for Distracted Driver Who Kills Teen

KXAN.COM, Hudsonville, MI, USA – A 40-year-old driver admitted he was eating a sandwich and using a GPS device when his vehicle crashed into the rear of a mini-van on a Michigan interstate highway in August killing a 13-year-old boy in the mini-van. At the driver’s sentencing last week, the boy’s family offered forgiveness.

For causing the crash, Travis Fox was sentenced to 18 months of probation, must serve on a panel to discuss the dangers of distracted driving, and must complete 40 hours of community service in the form of public speaking on distracted driving dangers.

But it was the powerful message of forgiveness that left many in tears Silhouette3following an unexpected move by the 13-year-old’s mother Kristin DeGraaf and father Jason Talsma.

DeGraaf told those in the courtroom that many lives were changed that day, including Fox’s — something that is not lost on her.

“I have forgiven him,” DeGraaf said. “My prayer is that he somehow will forgive himself, too, someday.”

Talsma said he felt the same way.

“Just putting myself into his shoes,” Talsma said of Fox before the two hugged in the courtroom. “Just realizing we are all real hurt over this, and he is as well, I could just feel it.”

Read the full story and watch the news report: Michigan distracted driver who killed boy gets probation, forgiveness.

We All Have Inherent Worth, but Not All Want to See This

Let us imagine a scenario that is not as uncommon as some might think. Let us suppose that you have cultivated in your mind that all people have inherent (built-in) worth. You see all people as special, unique, and irreplaceable. For some of you, your view is that all are brilliant colorsmade in the image and likeness of God.

Now let us further suppose that a person, let us say your boss, sees none of this. He sees you as inferior to him and lets you know that. You want to leave the job, but do not have the opportunity to do so yet.

A common error these days is to think that your thoughts carry a lot power in that, if you keep thinking that all have inherent worth and if you keep treating the boss with respect, then he eventually will come around to your way of thinking. He, too, will say and believe that all people have inherent worth, including you.

Yes, this could happen. Your patient forgiving might—might—turn the boss around so that he finally sees his errors of thought and behavior. Yet, this may not happen. He may stay entrenched in his thoughts and behaviors toward you so that, no matter what you do, he sees you and treats you as his inferior.

Do you then abandon your own view of inherent worth of all? Is it a dangerous thought (that all have inherent worth, including the boss) that keeps you oppressed by that boss? Absolutely not. It is not your thoughts that keep you oppressed. It is his thoughts, workplacehis actions that are the problem.

So, then, even if you cling to the notion that all have inherent worth, is not this thought itself worthless because, well, it is getting you nowhere? The boss is not changing.

Within you, it is not your continued thoughts of inherent worth that need changing, but instead you need to unite this thought with the quest for fairness, for justice, for what is right. You sometimes have to fight for your rights. If you do so with the knowledge that the boss—yes, even the boss—has inherent worth, then perhaps your quest for justice will be done with perseverance, respect, and a positive resolution.

And even if there is not a positive resolution with the boss, you can make plans to leave and do so as soon as possible. And as you leave with the thought that all have inherent worth, you can leave knowing that you, too, possess such worth. With a forgiving spirit, you will be preserving your health, as well as your self-respect.

Long live the idea that all people have inherent worth.


I am reading your book, “Forgiveness is a Choice,” and I am wondering… Does forgiveness apply in the case of a husband who is constantly mean and untrustworthy? The examples in the book seem to all be regarding a single past hurt, or an offense that occurred in the past. What about offenses that are ongoing but unrepented of and unresolved? I am Catholic, so I very much agree with forgiveness and starting over, etc. But I don’t know how to respond to unchanging behaviors that are sinful against me. Continual forgiveness?? Is it possible to not be resentful and bitter?

First, we have to realize that to forgive does not mean that you abandon the quest for justice. Forgive and from this place of diminished anger, let your husband know of your wounded heart and exactly why it is so wounded. He may reject your feelings at first, but this does not mean he will continually reject the truth.

You need to practice continual forgiveness, every day if you have the strong will for this. And pray about when it is the best time to once again ask for justice and even compassion from your husband. Was he deeply hurt as a child? If so, he may be displacing his anger onto you. Perhaps you both need to read Forgiveness Is a Choice…..together.

How long does it take before I can expect some emotional relief in the forgiveness process?

This will depend on how recently you were hurt, how deeply you were hurt, who hurt you, and your experience with the forgiveness process. Our research shows that if you can work on forgiving for about 12 weeks for serious offenses against you, then relief from excessive anger and anxiety can begin to occur. As a perspective on time, Dr. Suzanne Freedman and I did a study of incest survivors and it took about 14 months for the women to experience emotional relief. Although this may seem like a long time, please keep in mind that some of the women were struggling with anxiety and depression for years before they started to forgive.

Whenever I try to reconcile with my partner, I am reminded of the mean things that he did. It kind of sets back the reconciliation process. What do you recommend?

This is not uncommon. When the old feelings emerge as you try to reconcile, I recommend that you once again start the forgiveness process with this person and with a focus on the particular hurtful event. The more you go back to forgiving, the deeper the forgiveness tends to develop in you.

Does reconciliation require trust?

Reconciliation does require trust. If the other person has remorse (an inner sorrow for what he or she did), shows repentance (uses language to express that inner sorrow), and tries for recompense as best as he or she can under the circumstances, then trust can begin to build in you.