I have forgiven my partner but at times I get angry about what she did to me.  How can I avoid these feelings and forgive permanently?

As the late Lewis Smedes used to say, forgiveness is an imperfect activity for imperfect people.  Even if anger surfaces occasionally, please do not grow discouraged.  You can forgive again and it likely will take less time than previously and lead to better results.  The idea of “permanent” forgiveness is not necessarily going to happen in all people for all circumstances.  Having some anger left over happens to many people, especially when the injustice is deep.  So, please be gentle with yourself and please do not expect absolute perfection as you grow in the moral virtue of forgiveness.

For additional information, see Forgiveness for Couples.

I started the forgiveness process but out of sheer fatigue, I stopped for a while.  I want to start up again and now I have a question.  Should I start at the beginning or continue where I left off?

This depends on how long it has been since you previously were practicing forgiveness. If you have left the process for a few weeks, I suggest that you start at the beginning.  This does not mean that it will take you a long time to get to where you left off.  Some of the challenges in the early part of forgiveness (such as uncovering the effects of resentment) likely will be confronted quickly so that you can keep going in the forgiveness process.

For additional information, see The Four Phases of Forgiveness.

Is there anything I can do to encourage my brother to forgive me?

Did you apologize?  Did you show him that you are aware of your error and have taken steps not to repeat it?  This may help him establish trust in you which may help him to forgive you.  You will need patience as he makes up his own mind.  Your trying to put pressure on him to forgive will not be helpful.  He needs to see the value of forgiveness and willingly say yes to it.

For additional information, see Learning to Forgive Others.

I have a roommate who is very angry with his mother.  It seems to me that he has built up a story on his mother that is exaggerated, in other words, not entirely true.  What do you suggest I do to help him forgive?

First, it would be best to have him think as carefully and as rationally as possible to sort out what is true and what is false regarding the mother’s actions.  He needs to take a courageous view of the truth of the mother’s actual injustice.   Once this occurs, he should be able to see the exact injustices in which the mother engaged.  Your roommate then can pick out one incident and forgive his mother for that one.  Then he can move to another incident.  Little by little, he may forgive so that his resentment lessens and he can consider approaching his mother with a deeper sense of her inherent worth.

For additional information, see What Is Forgiveness?

What are the different meanings to the word “forget” when we say, “Forgive and forget”?

I think people usually mean this: Do not let the previous injustice get in the way of your relationship now.  It does not means this: Do not remember the other person’s weaknesses so that you are vulnerable to continued injustices.  In other words, “forget” means this: Remember in new ways, without deep anger, and watch your back.

For additional information, see Forgiveness Defined.

What is one major difference between forgiving other people and forgiving yourself?

When you forgive others, if you did nothing wrong, then you do not ask for forgiveness.  When you forgive yourself, you usually offend others by what you did.  Thus, self-forgiveness involves not only welcoming yourself back into the human community but also seeking forgiveness from others for hurting them by this particular action.

For additional information, see Self-Forgiveness.

Forgive ourselves and forgive others just as God forgives us

By: Surjit Singh Flora

To enjoy life peacefully, a very important aspect is to learn to forgive.
Forgiveness is to let go that which no longer serves us, freeing us to heal and move forward with ease and lightness. But for many of us, forgiving is a very hard thing to do.

The simplest things in life are often the best gifts. But they may also not be that simple.

The best gift people can give to each other are the gifts of forgiveness, peace, love, respect, and a smile, as we forget all the wrongs, we believe have been done to us.

Have we thought about giving ourselves the gift of forgiveness this year?

The way I learnt it was back when we came to Canada in 1989. At the time I didn’t speak or understand any English and was living at my aunt’s house with her family and my family being together. It started small, but over time it had an insidious effect. My aunt started teasing us, which slowly turned to insult, then bullying behaviour: we are useless here, we will be struggling, doing factory labour work… and on, and on. It started as just a joke but later turned into real verbal bullying.

At first, I thought it was nothing serious. No big deal. I thought she might realize and will change one day.

But slowly I started feeling depressed and began to brood about it. That eventually turned to actual, physical headaches every day. I felt like as if I was in hell. My mother was trying to help me, but as the bullying was not stopping, we decided that the only solution was to move to another place. And we did finally move out and get our own apartment — and then I had no more problems with bullying. But I also never showed my face to my aunt for a good five years after that. So much so that she noticed and began to complain to my mom and elder sisters.

One day we met at a family event, and she demonstrated to me, “What have I done wrong?” I explained to her, “Aunty, I love you and will always have respect for you and your opinions. But in this case, I am finding it very hard to dismiss the nasty comments you made about me and my family. I found I could not let such remarks go. They were hurtful, cruel… and though you aimed them to me and my family, I was the one you hurt. I hope that was unintentional.” She realized her part and felt bad and said, “Sorry!” Anyways, it will remain as an awful memory.

The road to forgiveness, it was hard. But I learnt to forgive her, with patience. It took time. When I thought of her, the urge to avoid her — worse, to get back at her, and treat her in kind — was strong. But I worked hard to get it off my chest and forgive her, and then I felt much better. True, I may never be able to forget what she did to me. But when I eventually learnt to forgive, it released the burden, and the floodgates of my negative emotions!

Forgiveness does not mean forgetting or minimizing the pain we feel, nor is it about excusing others. Forgiveness means making a conscious and deliberate decision to let go of our feelings of resentment or revenge, regardless of whether the person who has upset us deserves it.

So, are you ready to be free and ready to move ahead into the future?
We have to let go of our mistakes and forgive ourselves and forgive others just as God forgives us. Completely and with no reservations!

Have a wonderful life and peace!


Surjit Singh Flora is a veteran journalist and freelance writer based in Brampton, Ontario, Canada.