Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Self-Forgiveness Often Includes Making Amends with Others

Spring flowers in Rockford, Illinois
Are you having a hard time forgiving yourself for things you have done to others, to your own self, and to God? If so, the book to read on this is Everett Worthington's Moving Forward: Six Steps to Forgiving Yourself and Breaking Free From the Past

Worthington emphasizes the connection between self-forgiveness and seeking the forgiveness of others we have wronged. He cites studies that show "that people could forgive themselves more quickly and thoroughly if they felt forgiven both by God and by the person they wronged." (85) This is because when we hurt another person we damage our own character. In wounding others we also wound ourselves. When we choose to restore relationship with the one we have harmed this "restorative moral action will narrow our own injustice gap and help restore our sense of self as a moral person." (Ib.)

How can we narrow the injustice gap our actions have created? For one thing, "to regain trust from someone you harmed, you need to show the person that you are taking full responsibility." (86) If I hurt you then I am responsible, with your permission, to acknowledge your woundedness and the healing process. For example, the adulterous wife or husband must talk about their evil tryst, intentionally and proactively, so that their spouse does not have to keep asking all the many questions that are now in their mind. Worthington writes: "add substance to your commitment to take responsibility by acting to narrow the injustice gap." (Ib.)