The Practice of Forgiveness
‘The Book of Forgiving’, written by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, (one of South Africa's most well- known human rights activists, winning the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in resolving and ending apartheid), and his daughter Mpho Tutu Van Furth (a priest, a writer, a wife, mother an artist, a theologian and a public speaker, who’s mission it is to create a world that is good for girls), begins with sharing.
“Two simple truths: there is nothing that cannot be forgiven, and there is no one undeserving of forgiveness….In each of us, there is an innate ability to create joy out of suffering, to find hope in the most hopeless of situation, and to heal any relationship in need of healing.”
As a mindfulness meditation practitioner, therapist, and healer, I often get questions around forgiveness, and I sight references or stories on the topic to help aide in the persons healing. We all have a story, yes? Desmond Tutu writes:
“I face the same choice: to forgive or to seek revenge. We face this choice of whether or not to forgive as individuals, as families, as communities, and as a deeply connected world. The quality of human life on our planet is nothing more than the sum total of our daily interactions with one another. Each time we help, each time we harm, we have a dramatic impact on our world.”
In this profound book, ‘The Book of Forgiving’ you are invited to “explore each aspect of the Fourfold Path of forgiving: Telling the Story, Naming the Hurt, Granting Forgiveness, and Renewing or Releasing the Relationship…. Forgiveness is nothing less than the way we heal the world. We heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts.”
I’ve also enjoyed reading ‘The Book of Joy’ with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his holiness the Dalai Lama, another good read on your journey to healing.
Another book that’s worth a look is “Why Won’t You Apologize?” by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D. She writes:
“The healing power of a good apology is also immediately recognizable. When someone offers me a genuine apology, I feel relieved and soothed. Whatever anger and resentment I may still be harboring melts away. I also feel better when I offer an apology I know is due. I’m enormously grateful that I can repair the disconnection after having made a mistake or acted badly.”
She goes on say,
“Perhaps the most painful issue in the apology lexicon is coming to terms with the non-repentant wrongdoer. This is a universal human challenge for which forgiveness is the prescribed solution of the day…you do not need to forgive the person who has hurt you in order to free yourself from obsessive anger and bitterness…We take turns at being the offender and the offended until our very last breath. It’s reassuring to know that we have the possibility to set things right, or at least to know that we have brought our best selves to the task at hand, however the other person responds.”
This book is powerful and contains insights into authentic, genuine apologies, and engages the reader with some humor and real-life examples of good and not-so-good apologies (we’ve all experienced empty ‘I’m Sorry’ moments), definitely worth the read!
If you have any books or insights you’d like to share please do so! Everyone’s healing journey is different, and I encourage my readers and my clients to read and have conversations and practice the art of forgives in a way that feels right to them, while also enlisting help and insight from clinicians and thought leaders that are experts in this field.
The more we work together towards healing, the better! You’re not in this journey alone, reach out if you need assistance working through past hurts.
May you be filled with loving-kindness. Namaste.