Do I Really Want to Forgive When Traumatized?

Why would anyone want to forgive when another has traumatized you?

I would like to suggest a different perspective on trauma and forgiveness. It is not forgiveness itself that is creating the sense of fear or disgust or danger or moral evil. Instead, it is the grave emotional wounds which are leading to these thoughts and feelings about forgiveness. When people are wounded they naturally tend to duck for cover. When someone comes along with an outstretched hand and says, “Please come out, into the sunshine, and experience the warmth of healing,” it can be too much. We then blame the one with the outstretched hand or the warmth of the sun or anything else “out there” for our discomfort when all the while the discomfort is what is residing inside the person, not “out there.” And this reaction is all perfectly understandable, given the trauma.

If you experience a blown out knee while working out, and it is gravely painful, is it not difficult to go to the physician? There you face all the sharp white-lights of the examining room, and the nurses scurrying about, and the statements about surgery and recovery and rehabilitation. It all seems to be too much. Yet, it is not the physician or the nurses or the thought of the scalpel or the rehab that is the ultimate cause of all the discomfort. That ultimate cause is the blown-out knee. Isn’t it the same with forgiveness? You have within you a deep wound, caused by others’ injustice, and now the challenge is to heal.

Forgiveness is one way to heal from the trauma which you did not deserve. Like the blown-out  knee, the trauma needs healing. So, I urge you to separate in your mind the wound from forgiveness itself. My first challenge to you, then, is this: Is it forgiveness itself that is the basic problem or is it the wound and then all the thoughts of what you will have to do to participate in the healing of that wound?

Forgiveness heals. Forgiveness does not further traumatize. To forgive is to know that you have been treated unjustly and despite the injustice, you make the decision to reduce your resentment toward the offending person and eventually work toward mercy for him or her. That mercy can take the form of kindness, respect, generosity, and even love. Do you want that in you life—kindness, respect, generosity, and love? Forgiveness can help strengthen these in your heart or even begin to have them grow all over again for you.

– Excerpt from the book, The Forgiving Life, Chapter 2.

Robert

 

 

Family forgives caretaker responsible for eight-month-old daughter’s brain damage

Pretoria North Reckford Community Newspaper Group, Nelspruit, South Africa – 

“You can’t get angry, you have to forgive.” 

That is what Ryno Mulder says has enabled him to cope with the gut-wrenching turbulence he and his wife Verna have experienced over the past five weeks since their eight-month-old daughter Mienke stopped breathing when she choked on a bottle.

Mienke was being fed in her caregiver’s arms when the girl started turning blue from lack of oxygen and lost consciousness. She was resuscitated at a nearby hospital before being airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital where she has been since the incident on August 25. 

MRI scans show that Mienke has suffered severe brain damage and is believed to be blind. Her doctors fear that she will be unable to walk or talk. On Monday (Sept. 18) a feeding tube was inserted in her stomach.

“No parent should go through this; I would not wish this on anyone,” Ryno said. “We are still going through a roller coaster of emotions and everyone’s support has been helpful.”

The Mulder family – Verna and Ryno with children (from left) Zamoné, Leané, and Mienke.

More than 26,000 people are following Mienke’s progress on the “Please Pray for Mienke” Facebook group that Verna and Ryno have set up. Hundreds have also donated funds to help with ongoing medical and rehab costs. To assure those donors that their funds will be spent solely on the little bundle who has crawled so deep into people’s hearts, Ryno said a Mienke Mulder Trust Fund has been established at Standard Bank which has offices in 20 countries on the African continent. 

Because he didn’t want her to be blamed or criticized, Ryno would not reveal the name of either Mienke’s caregiver or the creche (day nursery) where the incident happened. “You can’t get angry, you have to forgive,” he repeated. 

On Wednesday of last week, Mienke opened her eyes for the first time since choking on the bottle, giving the entire Mulder family hope and a reason to stay positive.

Read more about Mienke and her family in these Lowvelder Media (South Africa) articles:

What Is Meant by “Forgiveness and Justice Occur Together”?

In many of my writings, I make the point that when you forgive, you also should seek justice from the one who hurt you.  As an example, if someone continually verbally abuses you, it is good to ask that person to stop the abuse.

One person recently asked me if he now must—-must—-seek justice even if it is not expedient or helpful to do so.  As an example, suppose you have a boss who is annoying but not abusive.  Suppose further that your pointing out the annoyances will harm your position in the company.  Are you morally obligated to seek justice as you forgive?  No.  As with your choice to forgive or not, it is your choice whether or not to seek justice.

We need to keep a balance here.  There is no rule that says when you forgive you must not seek justice.  There is no rule that says when you forgive you must seek justice.

Instead, use your wisdom and sense of fairness as you ask yourself: Should I be seeking justice in this particular case?

If seeking justice is the reasonable option, it may be best first to forgive so that you do not approach with deep anger the person from whom you will be asking fairness.

Robert

Holding on to an old grudge? Here’s help!

Are you are still holding on to a grudge, whether from yesterday or years ago? Are you still beating yourself up for some bad decision(s) you made in the past? 

“If so, find compassion and forgiveness in your heart (it’s actually in your brain) and you will be healthier and happier.”

That’s the advice of 90-year-old Dr. Natasha Josefowitz, an internationally-known author and consultant who has spent her life educating herself and others.

“This issue (holding on to past hurts) can impact our own health,” Dr. Josefowitz wrote in a recent HUFFPOST article. “We know that anger is stressful, and stress releases cortisol which narrows our arteries, which in turn can cause heart problems.”


Behind every destructive behavior is some unresolved pain that is then acted out.     Dr. Natasha Josefowitz,


“It is only when we can feel compassion that we can forgive,” Dr. Josefowitz adds. “Studies have confirmed that forgiving increases optimism and elevates mood whereas lack of it correlates with depression and anxiety. Forgiveness even increases blood flow to the heart.”

Read more:
– How to let go if you are you still holding on to an old grudge, HUFFPOST, Sept. 11, 2017.
– How to Forgive; the Four Phases of Forgiveness, International Forgiveness Institute website.
Forgiveness Is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope, Dr. Robert Enright.

Watch the Jerusalem Conference Tapes

The Jerusalem Conference on Forgiveness for the Renewal of Individuals, Families, and Communities–the first forgiveness conference ever held in the Middle East–was organized and produced by the International Forgiveness Institute and held on July 12 and 13, 2017. Now you can view the videotapes of all 22 sessions at no cost to you.

Day 1 of this 2-day conference included speakers from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam discussing what it means to forgive, the importance of forgiveness, and how to better interact with others through forgiveness.

Day 2 focused on how to bring forgiveness to children and adolescents in school and at home. The program included presentations by educators who are implementing forgiveness education, personal testimonies, and opportunities for everyone to contribute their ideas.

Now you can view every presentation of the entire conference whenever you wish. TelePace, an Italy-based telecommunication service, professionally video-recorded all 22 sessions. They are available to you at no charge here.

Conference speakers included:

Destroying the Monster Within

Is it possible that injustices against us are not as dangerous as our reactions to those injustices? If we do not realize the potential inner damage done to us by people’s unfairness, we could let evil grow in us. Think about that: A person “out there” does bad things and the result is evil “in here,” in you.

When those bad things are serious, when your own inner world is threatened with growing anger and discontent, is there anything at all in this world that can quiet the beast more than forgiveness? I do not think so.

Other people’s troubles can become your monsters within if you give them space, feed them, and allow them to grow. Forgiveness shrinks then eliminates those monsters within.

If you think about it, forgiveness helps you retain your humanity, and to even grow in that humanity at a time when others are trying to let the inner monsters out of their cages.

Robert