Sometimes in life, we find that we need to pursue a forgiveness process in order to get the resolution we need to move forward. If you find that you are needing this brand of closure, I highly recommend the steps below.
1. Set a specific time and place to discuss the offense.
a. Commit to discuss only the issue at hand.
b. Commit to being open and honest throughout the process.
2. Be fully present in the process.
a. Remove any distractions.
b. Focus on getting the answers you need to move forward.
c. Give yourself permission to feel/show/verbalize genuine emotions.
3. Clearly and concretely share your decision to pursue a forgiveness process/freedom from the pain of the past (and be open to the results of that disclosure).
a. Throughout the conversation, hopefully the offending party will be more aware of the hurt that they have caused. Allow them to express this sentiment if it is genuinely felt on their end.
b. If they offer an apology in the process, take time to consider this as a healing moment in your journey.
5. Grant Forgiveness (if you are ready).
a. If/when an apology is offered/forgiveness requested, be sure to acknowledge the gesture (for your sake). And, if you are ready, grant forgiveness. *Please note: Simply saying, “It’s OK,” is not sufficient for this process. The pain that has been caused is not OK. You and the person requesting forgiveness both know that, so be clear about accepting or not accepting the apology offered.
b. If you realize that you are not ready to extend forgiveness, you can simply say, “I accept your apology, but I need more time to work through my hurt.”
6. Once forgiveness has been extended, move forward with your life. Embrace the freedom this process can offer.
a. Moving forward with your life may include a decision to distance yourself from your offender or to end the relationship completely. Give yourself permission to do this if it’s necessary to your healing process.
b. If you made any decisions on your end that contributed to your hurt, resolve to make different choices moving forward (and formulate a plan for doing so).
7. Give yourself permission to be in a lifelong healing process.
a. If the offense was extremely painful, you will almost certainly carry some of that pain with you after this process is complete (even if you did everything “right”). This is normal. Be gracious with yourself.
b. Other circumstances in our lives can cause seemingly resolved pain to rear its head once again. This is not a failure on your part. Nor does it render a forgiveness process void. It just means that it is a good idea to always keep ourselves surrounded by a healthy support system… and to have the number of a good counselor near-by.
(Modified from The Power of Forgiveness — Journey Films)