In forgiveness discussions, WIFM comes across as, “Why should I forgive that louse?” or “Doesn’t my forgiveness just let him off the hook?” Both followed by, “What’s in it for me?”
Fred Luskin says that there are two steps to forgiveness, grieving and letting go. Once we have grieved – worked through the denial, anger, creative reasoning, sadness, and acceptance – then we let go. Often, we ritualize this letting go by approaching the offender and offering our forgiveness.
One amazing thing about this ritual is that the timing is totally up to you. Story after story affirms that the offender need not apologize or even be present for you to fully let go. Some have even offered forgiveness to the conjured image of the person in their imagination.
Azim Khamisa calls this extension of forgiveness a redemptive act. It reconnects you with the human family and gives you opportunity to offer the wisdom of your experience as a boon to your community.
Offenders may or may not find grace in your forgiveness – that’s not in your control. You will find healing.
The cave you fear to enter holds the treasures you seek. Joseph Campbell
Harriet Brown describes her search for forgiveness and experience at a Fred Luskin workshop (read article).