Is the Word "Forgiveness" too Confusing ?

by Steve Chappell - Originally Posted 2/15/09 - 9:24 PM

Sometimes I struggle with the word forgiveness. Not with the intent but the word. What does it mean? At times it seems too formal, too complex, and too much about the "other" person. Quite frankly, a word too much associated with Christian benevolence, rather than a great way to reduce stress, increase happiness and be more compassionate with ourselves and others.

I don’t think that I am alone in my struggle with the word forgiveness. During the three years I have been involved with this project, I have heard others say they experience difficulty arriving at a simple definition of the word.

In recent months I have tried to practice forgiveness to improve relationships with my wife, daughter and others closest to me. When thinking of the word forgiveness, other words have started to enter my mind. Words like “understanding,” and “patience.” I have also started to think about conditions that prevent me from being forgiving, such as “fear,” and "selfishness."

Can forgiveness be a proactive process? For example, can I try to be more "understanding" when my ten year old daughter unintentionally interrupts while I am talking with my wife? Instead of being frustrated with my daughter, can I be more patient, understanding and forgiving upfront in order to foster a more harmonious relationship from the get go.

I was curious about this so Googled the words “forgiveness” and “proactive.” One top search hit is “Fred Luskin.” Some of his essays, including an article about “Four Steps Toward Forgiveness” that appeared in Healing Currents Magazine in 1996. In this article he speaks about each of us having a choice of how to forgive:

Chrissa (American Girl Doll), Leah Chappell, Steve Chappell