To start off today’s blog on forgiveness, I am simply going to give a couple of short definitions of some commonly misunderstood terms. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone shares the same definitions we are about to define. Some people think forgiveness is an automatic process, others think it takes time, still other’s think it is impossible to truly forgive. Just to name a few. The same app,is to conflict or confrontation. Some people think it is simply ‘bad’ or even wrong to confront another person. Some people think confrontation has to be aggressive, with a defensive posture, and using anger as a defense mechanisms, while others believe confrontation can be not only healthy, but can be done while respecting and valuing the other person, gently and in love, from a perspective of having dealt with their anger privately, coming at confrontation when they can be level headed and empathetic of the other person, and prepared to listen to the other’s viewpoint without making assumptions of the other party involved, prepared to ask questions if necessary to clarify the other person’s perspective. So here are some simple definitions:

Conflict: To come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, in opposition, at variance. To clash. To fight or contend; do battle. Struggle, strife.

Forgiveness: To grant pardon for or remission of an offense, debt, etc. Absolve. To give up all claim on account of, remit an obligation, to grant pardon to a person.

Confront: To face in hostility or defiance. Oppose. To stand or meet face to face to acknowledge contradiction.

From Conflict to Forgiveness:

Conflict is inevitable in every relationship, simply because each of us has individual beliefs, values, ideas, preferences and the freedom of choice. When we ‘clash’ with another person’s perspective, we have conflict. Conflict can arise for any number of reasons, From misunderstanding or abuse, or power or control that one person asserts over another, to differing points of view, or values with an unyielding stance that one’s own opinion is always correct. As this is a loaded and very deep subject, we will not get too heavily in depth on either the subject of conflict or forgiveness, but we will stay on a high level looking at the concepts as an overview, with real practical assignments to help get you started in the right direction to dealing with conflict and forgiveness and effective ways to confront each other when differences arise, or when we have been hurt, or angered by the actions of another person. We will look at confronting more in the next session. Today we will touch on how to move from a place of conflict towards forgiveness.

First of all, conflict often arises when we feel or legitimately have been ‘hurt’ by another’s words, actions or behavior. Often the first emotion we feel is anger, or blame. Anger is a protector. It protects against hurt. It is a powerful emotion that enhances one’s sense of power when they feel injured by another party. We tend to see things in an all or nothing perspective when angry by seeing the other as the attacker, exploiter, or invader, while we see ourselves as the innocent victim. While this may be true in a small number of cases, (in which both parties will often know only one person is at fault), more often than not, as the saying goes: “It takes two to tango”. Although the level of responsibility for an offense may not always be equal, in most situations, especially close relationships with spouse, family, or friends, some of the responsibility lays with each party involved in the conflict. It is hard to see this when angered. A helpful tool for dealing with anger is to remember this acronym: F-E-E-L.

The next time you feel yourself getting angry or critical, try the following:
F – Focus – on yourself instead of your partner’s offense and remind yourself of what each letter means. Then remember to focus on what you are feeling beneath the anger.
E – Emotion – Determine what the emotions are that you are experiencing beneath the anger, for example, hurt, rejection, fear. This may help dismantle some of your anger.
E – Empathy – Remember to express empathy for the person you are in conflict with. Remember that they are not perfect and neither are you. When you are able to see you are not perfect either, you get of the judge’s bench and can now see your partner/friend, etc. as an equal participant who also hurts and feels. Try to understand where they are coming from, and feel empathy or compassion for them, to remember that you have basic good will toward each other.
L – Leave – If none of the above is working, leave the situation. It is probably best to discuss this with the person prior to an angry outburst as to how you will address conflict when you are angry. A good rule of thumb if you need to leave the situation because you feel you are losing control of your anger is to determine a length of time for a time-out from the confrontation. Ie. 20-30 minutes to cool down, so that you can address the issue when you are not as heated. Make arrangements to check in with each other every 20-30 minutes (or whatever time frame you set) to see if both of you are ready to resume facing the conflict without blowing up at each other.

We forgive by reaffirming love for each other, by releasing the past, by renewing repentance through enduring the issues of justice, integrity, and self righteousness by resolving and restructuring into a restored relationship so we are free to love and live and risk again with each other. We forgive also by re-establishing basic goodwill and community with each other by understanding the other person, accepting the other person as they are, and where there is broken trust, community is sustained through forgiveness.

There are false paths of forgiveness we can take as well through the path of denial, bitterness, shame revenge, seeking re-payment, etc. These paths do not work towards forgiveness. There is a saying that says unforgiveness is like drinking a poison that you want someone else to drink. Basically, it only hurts you to stay in unforgiveness.

Forgiveness places blame appropriately. Forgiveness grieves. Forgiveness considers reconciling. Forgiveness learns to trust again. Forgiveness is a choice, and forgiveness takes time. It is not often a once and done event, especially for major wounds. For smaller offenses, forgiveness can be a quicker process most often, but for the bigger, deeper, more profound and close to your heart matters, forgiveness most often takes time! For major offenses, forgiveness also may not require reconciliation with the offending party -depending on their willingness to own up to their part in the problem, or to repent to you – meaning a turning around and turning towards you to resolve the situation. Repentance does not mean: I’m sorry I got caught, or I’m sorry you got hurt, without any intention of changing behavior. Repentance always requires a change in behavior. Reconciliation also requires that the situation is ‘safe’ again. If it is not safe, it is unwise to make attempts to reconcile and open yourself up to further injury or potential harm. For more info on safety, check out my blog from a few months back on how to find safe people!

For a quick recap:

1. How do you currently define conflict?

2. How do you currently define confrontation?

3. How do you define forgiveness?

4. Do you feel that forgiveness is important and necessary? Even if reconciliation with the other person never takes place? Why or why not? I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter!

I’m considering writing a short e-book on forgiveness, simply because in one short blog, I cannot possibly cover all the matters involved with the importance of forgiveness, or the best ways to confront well, and work through those issues effectively! Stay tuned to my http://website at for updates! I will be releasing an e-book shortly on abuse as well. Keep checking in from time to time! And if you need some additional coaching on relationship issues you are facing, feel free to check out my 6 month relationship coaching program, and be sure to sign up for a complimentary personal freedom stately session with me for further inquiries on any of the subjects I blog about on Fridays!

Take care, and have a great weekend!