Forgiveness. Saying “I’m sorry” are such simplistic words compared to the all encompassing word “forgiveness”. It can be so very easy to use the word “sorry” to explain away any small or large indiscretion. For someone to truly forgive you, “sorry” is not enough. An explanation…a reason…an admittance of the misdeed will help to speed up the forgiveness process. Complete forgiveness takes effort and honesty and time and sometimes includes a large dose of hesitation.
People may hesitate to forgive because they do not want to give up the control in a relationship. They want to take the proverbial upper hand. Dr. Everett L. Worthington, Ph.D* suggests that people may hesitate to offer or ask for even a bit of forgiveness because they feel that they personally have nothing to gain in return. According to writings by Dr. Worthington, research shows that there is a strong connection between forgiveness and physical, mental as well as spiritual health. Forgiveness can even play an important role in the totality of health for families, communities and even countries.
Thinking about the current negativity in our country…perhaps understanding the benefits of forgiveness is not just another naive solution.
Our personalities have sharp edges individually just as countries have sharp edges. Irritation is predictable in most relationships whether it be personal or happening in a political atmosphere. This does not mean that we should continue to assume that anger has taken control and is the lead decision maker in our actions. We sometimes need to forgive even though we may hesitate.
According to Dr. Worthington, an international leader who placed emphasis on reconciliation was Nelson Mandela. Despite his critics and in direct response to his many supporters, Mandela did not hesitate to believe in effective forgiveness.
Just something to consider.
*Everett L. Worthington Jr., Ph.D has been a professor in the department of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Worthington is also the author of Humility: The Quiet Virtue as well as an article titled “The New Science of Forgiveness”.