Reflection by Scott Stoner
Robert Enright is one of the leading researchers on forgiveness, and is the founder of the International Forgiveness Institute. He is also the author of Forgiveness is a Choice: A Step-by-Step Process for Resolving Anger and Restoring Hope. On the website of the Institute he offers the following definition of forgiveness:
“When unjustly hurt by another, we forgive when we overcome the resentment toward the offender, not by denying our right to the resentment, but instead by trying to offer the wrongdoer compassion, benevolence, and love; as we give these, we as forgivers realize that the offender does not necessarily have a right to such gifts.”
In this definition, we clearly see that forgiveness is a choice. When a person chooses to let go of their right to be resentful, they can begin the process of forgiveness. This is a choice because it involves making a conscious decision to deny the “right to the resentment.”
The definition goes on to say that to offer compassion and love to someone who has offended us is to offer that person a gift. And, as with any gift, forgiveness is always a choice; it is always a gift we can choose to give or to withhold.
Making It Personal: Reread Robert Enright’s definition of forgiveness. What stands out for you as you read this? Does this definition connect with your own experience? Do you think it is missing anything?
Follow along with us this Lent season with our daily devotional and engage in discussion in our closed facebook group moderated by The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner & The Rev. Jan Kwiatowski.
In this group, participants will have a chance to share their responses to the prompts in the daily readings, and also the chance to receive additional material for reflection.