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14 April 2012

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Barbara C.

Well, what I meant by adult problems is that young children are less likely to cause the level of hurt that older kids/teens and adults can inflict on each other (major betrayals of trust, physical/emotional abuse) that can lead to long-term feelings of anger and mistrust.

I guess the question is matter of what does "forgiveness" really mean? Some people say that forgiveness means that after saying "I forgive" you the injured party forgets it every happens ("forgive and forget"). I heard a priest say that just because you forgive that doesn't mean that you have to necessarily forget or trust again immediately. But if you truly forgive someone does that mean that you no long feel any anger towards the person? And what part does keeping a certain amount of anger protect you from trusting someone you shouldn't for your own mental/emotional/physical well-being?

Barbara C.

You make a really good point about teaching kids how "NOT" to make an apology, as in the non-apology apology. Your lessons are definitely ones that I could have stood to learn as a child, and it's given me food for teaching my own kids.

So, please don't think that I'm dismissing your original points...and I'm sorry if I'm kind of hijacking your blog. Your post just kind of hit a nerve of something I've been struggling with. :-)

bearing

No, no, I think it's an important question. In a lot of ways, I think it's worthless to teach children strategies that expire completely when they hit adulthood. Even though the precise appearance of appropriate, respectful behavior changes as people mature, the principles it is all based upon should remain constant.

"If you truly forgive someone does that mean that you no longer feel any anger" -- Gosh, I hope not. I can't imagine the requirements are that stringent. **Inappropriate and unhelpful feelings are part of the lot of human nature.** But just like feelings of prejudice or lust, we have a responsibility to avoid dwelling on or acting on feelings of unhelpful anger. Forgiveness has to be a decision-based act for it to be a matter of moral agency. Once the initial red fog of confusion lifts -- and this can take a while, at least that's how I have perceived it in my experience -- there comes a point when you realize that you can decide whether to stew in the anger or skip more lightly over its surface.

I think sometimes forgiveness can be reached in a single decision, after which you find peace; and other times it is the sort of commitment you find yourself constantly having to renew.

As for trust: I do not remember any biblical injunction to trust anyone except God. I remember that there are people we are supposed to honor, people we are supposed to protect, people we are supposed to serve; and that everybody is someone we are supposed to love.

If it is very easy to slip into anger at a person for a past wrong, or for something that continues to be an issue, you might consider trusting that person practically a near occasion of sin. Is it likely to lead to more anger? But I think it's far more important to focus on what you really owe. Trust is, as they say, something earned (or at least earned back once lost). Honor (as in your parents), love (as in your neighbor), service, fair dealings, all those are things we owe to people because they're people, not because they're earned.

Barbara C.

I've been thinking a lot about your response the past couple of days.

It's funny how well today's post on Conversion Diary really melds with your posts.

"To forgive someone is to want God’s best for them."-Dawn Eden

bearing

I noticed that too! I especially liked how she made a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation.

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