Forgiveness: It's An Inside Job

This article is about forgiveness, from the understanding of Desmond Mopho Tutu. He calls it the fourfold path of forgiveness and invites us to free ourselves from the cycles of hurt and retaliation.

1. Telling the Story

It's important to tell the story, to get it out. In doing so, we can reclaim our dignity after we've been harmed. This doesn't mean, however, that we get to dwell on it. Telling the story allows us to begin to process what has happened and then integrate it. In time, it enables us to become more resilient.

2. Naming the Hurt Sad? Angry? Afraid?

When we've been harmed, we feel it in our hearts. It's important to name that feeling. "We give voice to our hurts not to be victims or martyrs, but to find freedom from the resentment, anger, shame or self- loathing that can fester and build inside us when we do not touch our pain and learn to forgive,"

3. Granting Forgiveness

Forgiveness must be, above all, be sincere. "Many people, even very spiritual people, try to leap over their suffering in pursuit of their inner peace or their sense of what is the right thing to do. The words of forgiveness are said, but the reality of forgiveness has not taken root in their hearts and lives," How do we know when we've truly forgiven? It differs for each of us. For some, it's like a huge weight being lifted. For others, it's a feeling of peace, or getting to that place where you can sincerely wish the other person well (or at least no longer wish them harm). Ultimately, it is a feeling of freedom.

4. Renewing or Releasing the Relationship

We can always choose to release a relationship once the forgiveness work is done. But the more complex option is renewing that relationship and reconnecting with that person.

"Renewing a relationship is not restoring a relationship. We do not go back to where we were before the hurt happened and pretend it never happened. We create a new relationship out of our suffering, one that is often stronger for what we have experienced together,"


Rev. Toni G. Boehm, Ph.D. is the Unity South Central Ministry Consultant. Boehm is contracted by the USCR Board to support ministries in ever-evolving vibrant and excellent experience of spiritual maturity and ministry dynamics. Boehm is also the national coordinator, U.W.M. Peace Skills and Transition Ministry Support.

Available are 3 levels of board training, Vision/Mission/Core Value creation, various support workshops, and much more. She can be contacted at 816-304-3044 or