Forgiveness, Part Two

forgiveness: the four steps to forgivenessIn Part 1 of this blog post on forgiveness, we explored both what forgiveness is, and what it is not based on The Book of Forgiving by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Reverend Mpho Tutu. Before providing their framework on how to extend forgiveness, the authors first invite readers to explore how we could benefit from no longer holding onto our anger through the following exercise: They recommend finding a stone, and carving out six hours of your day to hold the stone in your non-dominant hand. Do not, under any circumstances, put down the stone.

Carrying the stone

At the end of the six hours, Archbishop Tutu and Reverend Tutu ask the following questions: What was it like carrying the stone? Did it hinder any of your activities? In what ways is carrying the stone similar to carrying unforgiven hurts?

Identify a list of people

After completing this exercise, I recommend identifying a list of people you would like to forgive, as well as a list of people you would like to be forgiven by. What could it look like to gift yourself the freedom of forgiveness and release yourself from resentment? What are the worst-case scenarios, and what are the best-case scenarios?


What might the scenarios look like if you were to pursue revenge instead of forgiveness? In the revenge cycle, Archbishop Tutu and Reverend Tutu write that we reject our pain and suffering and believe that our pain will go away by hurting the person who hurt us. In the forgiveness cycle, we face our pain and suffering and move toward acceptance and healing by walking the fourfold path.

The four steps

If you decide to put these ideas into action, you can use the following four steps provided by Archbishop Tutu and Reverend Tutu to extend forgiveness: 1) Tell the story/narrative; 2) Name the hurt; 3) Grant forgiveness; and 4) Renew or release the relationship.   In Part 3 of this blog series, I will break these steps down and provide a meditation that allows you to explore the barriers that can prevent us from walking this four-fold path. In Part 4, I will discuss the final step in extending forgiveness and finding closure.   Image provided by: Erik Oliver