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Forgiveness is a process whereby one abandons one’s resentments and increases one’s mercy, which takes time

cropped-shutterstock_109647038-Black-Man-Smiliing-PRCHS.jpgSome teach that forgiveness is merely a decision that one makes once and for all, rather than a process into which one chooses to enter. However, Enright and Fitzgibbons (2000) argue that the decision to forgive, though a necessary step in the process of forgiving, is only the beginning of the process and must be worked out in practical terms before it can be considered a true or complete forgiveness:

“…the acts of abandoning resentment and increasing mercy need time to develop and cannot be forced, merely willed into existence, or ordered about by one’s thought processes. In our view, the definition of forgiveness necessitates that we in the helping professions consider forgiveness to be an unfolding process, one that does not run smoothly, filled with starts and stops, only eventually culminating in reduced anger and more compassion. A decision to forgive is only a part of this process” (p. 49).

Enright, R. D., & Fitzgibbons, R. P. (2000). Helping clients forgive: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope. Washington, DC US: American Psychological Association.