Christian Family Therapist’s book calls for forgiveness for the holiday

Forgiveness can begin at home during the holidays, but it does not have to end there, according to a recent book by Christian family therapist Ronald D. Ramsey.

Mr. Ramsey said in an interview Friday that his latest book, “Forty Days to Forgiveness: A Christian’s Field Guide to the Forgiveness Journey” (WestBow Press), offers 40 daily exercises for vacation-stressed families struggling to “release pain” and let go previous complaints when meeting from Thanksgiving to New Year.

“The essence of forgiveness is empathy, being able to compassionately understand the perspective of those who offend us,” said Mr. Ramsey to The Washington Times.

“It does not mean accepting or tolerating what they have done, and it does not mean absolving them of responsibility,” he added.

The book invites spouses, children, parents and people from all walks of life to focus on a particular offense and stay on it for all 40 days of the research-based reflections.

An exercise invites people to reflect and write about the depth of their feelings for how the particular crime has affected them throughout their lives.

The Michigan-based marriage counselor and hospital chaplain, 65, said family members will “have a hard time coping” with old injuries until they do.

“Many times on holidays, we believe that forgiving another person will make them act differently, but forgiveness is about us, not them,” said Mr. Ramsey.

A married father of one, he said many people make that mistake during the holidays by believing that forgiveness depends on the other person “for emotional release.”

“Forgiveness does not teach the perpetrator a lesson, does not take revenge or make them act differently,” said Mr. said Ramsey.

The book mixes Christian scriptures with behavioral science research and professional insights as it guides readers through each step of the forgiveness process.

These steps involve being ready to forgive, acknowledging the emotional impact of past transgressions, committing to personal growth, maturing spiritually, and maintaining emotional peace.

While many people confuse the feeling of forgiveness with the forgiveness itself, Mr. Ramsey that the real progress comes from releasing the pain and anxiety that lingers long after an offense is passed, even though an offender never apologizes or takes responsibility for it.

Sir. Ramsey, who was married for 38 years, attends an evangelical Christian congregation and also draws on his experience as a hospital chaplain working with palliative care patients and their families as death approaches.

He said dying patients “probably have pending cases” with forgiveness, and going to the grave without letting go of complaints “can make it a very tough delivery.”

“Then again, on the cross, Jesus asked his Father to forgive the people who killed him, and I often invite people to ask God to forgive people for them when they can not find it in their hearts to do so,” he said. Mr. said Ramsey.

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