Moving Forward : Learning to Forgive


Ancient Romans had many gods, one of which was Janus. They depicted Janus as a two-faced god, one looking to the past and the other the future. Janus was the god of beginnings and transitions. He was the god also of gates, doors, doorways, endings and time. The Romans dedicated the month of January to Him and the first month of the year remains the most apparent reminder in modern culture to him. The tradition of making New Year resolutions, setting new goals, having great aspirations and high hopes for new opportunities remains to this day.


One thing I have learnt from pastoral experience is that failure to forgive often lies at the base of negativity, anger, stress, anxiety, mental and physical illness, and most unhappiness. “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” (Gautama Buddha)


I want to challenge you, as the New Year begins, to forgive. Like Janus that has been looking to the past, I urge you to let go of past negative emotions, make a change. Look forward to the open gates and doorways of opportunity that lie ahead and great successes in 2021.


Here is an outline of the next topics to be covered in the - Step Learning to Forgive Program to help you along.

  1. Understand Negative Emotions & Impact on Wellbeing

  2. Reduce Intensity of Negative Emotions by Desensitizing

  3. Reframe Situations

  4. Get The Monkey Off Your Back

  5. Gain Inner Peace

To give you a head start, I thought it would be useful to understand the definition of forgiveness in the context of this blog. I will use Borris-Dunchunstang’s (2007) definitions of forgiveness which summarise perfectly what I want you to take away.


Forgiveness is not pardoning. Forgiveness is an inner emotional release. Pardoning is a public behavioral release. To forgive the wrongdoer does not mean that we abolish the punishment for what was done.’ 1

Forgiveness is not condoning. Forgiveness does not mean that you support behaviors that cause pain to yourself or others. ... We do not have to accept someone else’s behavior in order to forgive. 1

Forgiveness is not reconciliation. Forgiveness is a personal, internal release that only involves oneself. ... Reconciliation is a coming together of two or more people. 1”

I am confident that you can gain mastery of your emotional state. The above definitions place responsibility for taking action on you. You do not have to wait for an apology. No need to procrastinate waiting for an external entity. No need to link the act of forgiving to condoning the behaviour. No need to be forced or force yourself into premature reconciliation. Lighten your shoulders, take the decision to forgive. Get off to a great start to 2021. Happy New Year!


Pastor Mfakazi Ndebele


References

  1. Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness by Eileen R. Borris-Dunchunstang McGraw-Hill © 2007

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