I did a search on amazon to find a book on forgiveness on Kindle. I came across many. But the one that resonated with me was a book by two South Africans. As someone who was born in South Africa, I experienced a lot of anger because of apartheid. When democratic reforms took place, it was not easy to forgive those who oppressed you. To add this, the issue of forgiveness became very controversial especially when President Nelson Mandela called on the country to forgive and to work for racial reconciliation. He believed that forgiveness was important for healing to take place. In this post I want to share about forgiveness in general and then present a book by Desmond and Mpho Tutu who wrote about forgiveness.
What is Forgiveness?
It is said that forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense. The victim then lets go of negative emotions such as being revengeful, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.
In other words it is to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done you wrong. It is also to stop blaming that person. It also means to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed).
Wow! The above definition reads so easy but yet, if one is a victim, it is not easy to take that step of forgiving the person who has wronged you. It is much harder if the person who has wronged you does not deserve your forgiveness. Now as a person of faith, I tap into a spiritual resource that helps me to forgive and this is made easier because I have been forgiven by God. Now I am not going to focus on that, as I realize that not all of you are persons of faith. Let’s move on.
Having looked at what forgiveness is where the victim takes the step towards the other. It will be helpful to know what forgiveness is not.
What Forgiveness is Not
Experts, especially psychologists state that when you forgive, you do not sweep the issue under the carpet or for a better phrase, gloss over or deny the seriousness of an offense against you. I know there are some who say that you should forget the offence. There are others who say that forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses. Though forgiveness can help repair a damaged relationship, it doesn’t obligate you to reconcile with the person who harmed you.
What does Forgiveness Do?
Well, if experts are saying that you should not forget how serious the offence is and not to condone the offense, what then does forgiving that person do. Forgiveness brings the forgiver peace of mind and frees him or her from corrosive anger. It seem that anger is the culprit over here.
Forgiveness and Anger
Anger is a strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility. When there is the absence of forgiveness this feeling, if not controlled, can sometime affect you both physically and physiologically.
Now we all know that anger is a completely normal, usually healthy, human emotion. But as I mentioned, when it gets out of control, it can be destructive. It can lead to problems. Uncontrolled anger can affect you at work, in your personal relationships, and in the overall quality of your life. I have seen many people who carry anger and seen how adversely this has affected them.
According to experts, forgiveness has lots of benefits.
Benefits of Forgiveness
- Forgiveness makes us happier: Research suggests not only that happy people are more likely to forgive but that forgiving others can make people feel happy, especially when they forgive someone to whom they feel close.
- Forgiveness improves our health: Dwelling on grudges can cause blood pressure and heart rate to spike—signs of stress which damage the body; when we forgive, our stress levels decrease. Our immune system is affected when we hold grudges.
- Forgiveness sustains relationships: Here too, when we hold grudges, they make us less likely to sacrifice or cooperate with folks we relate to. There will be issues of trust and commitment. It is said that forgiveness can stop this downward spiral and repair our relationship before it dissolves.
- Forgiveness is good for marriages (most of the time): It is found that spouses who are more forgiving and less vindictive are better at managing and resolving conflicts effectively in their marriage. Those who are in a healthy satisfying relationship were those who are more forgiving. However, when more forgiving spouses were frequently mistreated by their husband or wife, they became less satisfied with their marriage.
- Forgiveness boosts kindness and connectedness: People who feel forgiving don’t only feel more positive toward someone who hurt them. They are also more likely to want to volunteer and donate money to charity, and they feel more connected to other people in general.
- Forgiveness can help heal the wounds of war. With the tragic effects of war on people in counties who have experienced war, their trauma was reduced because they learned forgiveness skills.
As a person who was born in South Africa, I cannot think of two outstanding human persons, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela who talked and practiced radical forgiveness in their respective lives.
South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, initiated by Mandela and chaired by Tutu is widely credited with encouraging forgiveness and reconciliation after the end of apartheid in South Africa. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, has argued that forgiveness is the path to “true enduring peace.”
Books on Forgiveness on Kindle
There are many books on forgiveness on Kindle. One book with co-authors, Desmond Tutu and his daughter Mpho Tutu entitled, The Book of Forgiving: The Fourfold Path for Healing Ourselves and Our World is a book about forgiveness that will you find most insightful. It is a highly rated book and if you want to read about healing ourselves and the word.
I found one of the top reviews of this book
In The Book of Forgiving, Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu are inviting us to join them on the path of forgiveness so that we can ‘heal the world by healing each and every one of our hearts’. I was invited to share my story of forgiveness for this book, which is quite an honor, and when I received my copy upon its release, I was surprised at how much grief I hadn’t yet processed as I read it. I have told my story many times, both in person and in writing. Telling the Story is the first step on this Fourfold Path of Forgiveness. Naming the Hurt is the second step on the path and this is where I had not completed the journey. I had no words to name my hurt over losing my husband and 13 year old daughter in a terrorist attack. I certainly felt it but it was so overwhelming that I plunged into the third step of Granting Forgiveness so that I could restore peace within myself. I discovered I could not truly Release the Relationship to this event and Renew my relationship with life without Naming the Hurt. Even now my eyes fill with tears as I write this. Healing the heart is a process of liberation that requires full acknowledgement of the emotional pain that splits the heart into pieces. I am so grateful to Desmond and Mpho Tutu for outlining the importance of this step and giving many examples from the stories of others who have suffered violent, unexpected losses of dear ones. By allowing ourselves to fully accept the reality by naming it, frees us from being bound by the shackles of that which cannot be changed. Forgiveness is then possible. By practicing this Fourfold Path on a regular basis we not only create inner peace, we give the gift of peace to everyone in our world? KiaScherr
As a South African I have observed how Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela has led with grace and integrity. I believe their ability and capacity to forgive has earned them so much of admiration by people around the world. I am glad that the writings of the Tutus on Forgiveness on Kindle is available. It is a must read!