Forgiveness Case Studies Examples
The complex concept of forgiveness is not a simple task for any person who is looking to forgive or be forgiven. Taking on the decision to forgive is also difficult in many situations. However, understanding that forgiveness is crucial to the process of healing makes it an important skill in communication. Not too much has been researched on the topic of forgiveness but we see it in numerous parts of life. There are books, articles, movies, sand songs all focusing on forgiveness. The focus of this paper will be on how forgiveness can be seen as a form of weakness and sometimes forgiveness is a sign of strength. Five different sources will be used that each depicts forgiveness in one of two viewpoints.
Stories of Forgiveness
Several stories of forgiveness are shared to provide a better outline and understanding of how forgiveness works and situations where immense strength is required by the forgiving and in some cases where forgiveness occurs as weakness.
The first story comes from a site a came across as I was looking online while researching the topic of forgiveness. A woman named Patricia Machin felt a strange feeling one morning as her husband left for work, which had her run outside to follow the path that he walked. She came across a traumatic scene of sirens and her husband’s blood spread out all over the road. Her husband had been hit by a man in his car while driving. The woman surprisingly did not file a complaint or charges against the driver. Most people would be furious with rage; instead she realized how horrible this had to be for the driver to live with and decided to forgive him almost on the spot. In this case the woman showed tremendous strength by forgiving a man for killing her husband, and to have actually had the courage to have seen the scene of the accident and still be able to find it in her heart to forgive the man was unbelievable (List Top Tens, 2013).
A movie with George Clooney named The Descendants, is the second example where there was use of forgiveness by a husband towards his wife. This story was complex and interesting to watch in the way Matt King (George Clooney), the husband who was cheated on by his wife, is placed in a situation that makes him face the forgiveness dilemma. In the movie, the wife cheats on him and is involved in a horrible accident which leaves her in a coma and most likely death. Matt deals with his anger and proceeds to find his wife’s lover to inform him of her condition to allow him to see her once more before she is taken off life support. This example of forgiveness is was another one that I found incredibly shocking. Matt shows high levels of strength to overcome the mountain of emotions that he is in to forgive his wife and somewhat even her lover as he is getting ready see his wife die (The Descendants, 2011).
The next story is about an actress Tori Spelling and her husband Dean McDermott who cheated on her numerous times. Tori has forgiven him and he has continued to cheat. The example of this story shows a sign of weakness in regard to Tori’s willingness to forgive her cheating husband. One can understand that a person is capable of messing up once, but to repeat it and still be forgiven and taken back seems weak on the part of the ‘forgiver’. If she had forgiven him yet decided to end the relationship, I could maybe understand that, but he did not deserve to return to the marriage after than many affairs (Radar Online, 2014).
The fourth story is involves the female kidnapper, Wanda Barzee, in the kidnapping case of Elizabeth Smart. Ed Smart, Elizabeth’s father was asked if he forgave Wanda as the co-conspirator because of the position she was in as her husband Brian David Mitchell forced her to allow these sick crimes. Ed has not forgiven her, he said he feels sorry for her, which I do not see the reason for, but if he had forgiven her I would be appalled. This woman is not worthy of forgiveness if you continue hearing about the type of person she is. Her own children call her ‘a monster mother’ and are not able to forgive her. Anyone that forgives in this circumstance would be doing it as a sign of weakness (Mooney, 2010).
The last story where I think forgiveness showed the worst sign of weakness is in a news story about a husband and wife. Yvonne Stern’s husband, Jeffrey Sterns not only cheated on his wife but attempted to have her killed. She chose to forgive him despite this horrible behavior toward her. I cannot understand why any person would forgive their spouse in a situation like this. To cheat is one thing, but to attempt murder is not a situation that required forgiveness. Some may say that this was a sign of Yvonne’s strength, but I disagree, I think it was extremely weak (Lovett, 2012).
Personal Stance on Forgiveness
After reading these various stories on people choosing to forgive other individuals who have caused them pain or suffering, I still find it difficult to fathom forgiveness. Forgiveness does not come easy to me. I do not know if I do not understand the entire meaning or not, but I think that I do not want to be the person who forgives out of weakness. Instead, I go to the polar opposite end and prefer to remain bitter and angry before choosing to forgive people. I think that the person I forgive has to show enough regret and suffering for me to feel that they deserve my forgiveness. I also do not want to easily forgive and allow the person to think that I am allowing him or her to continue this type of behavior with me. By staying mad the seriousness of the insult caused by the betrayal is made evident to the perpetrator looking for forgiveness. It is crucial for me to make a strong statement that the person should never consider betraying or hurting me again. I want people to know that I will remove them from my life before they can re-enter and take advantage of my trust.
I think people, me included, resist offering forgiveness to people for similar reasons as my own. When a person feels hurt, the natural response is to hurt back. By withholding forgiveness you feel empowered that you are able to get a slight revenge for what the person has done to harm you. I think that the pain one suffers causes anger that makes them want to teach the instigator a lesson. The other problem is that people are afraid to appear weak, and just like me, they are afraid of a repeated incident occurring if they offer forgiveness to the wrong doer.
I am not too sure about my position on accepting a person’s forgiveness. As I sit here thinking about situations where I was begged for forgiveness I realize that I do not accept forgiveness any easier than I ask am willing to forgive. Similar reasons are to blame in my inability to accept forgiveness. It becomes an issue of trust and remaining stubborn in my position as not to look pathetic. I really dislike the idea of allowing people to think of me as a vulnerable and naïve individual that they can treat however they wish to treat. So when it comes time for me to accept forgiveness I take almost the same position as I do in offering my forgiveness.
List Top Tens. (2013). 10 Extraordinary examples of forgiveness. Retrieved from
Lovett, E. (2012). Home> U.S. Three Stories of Extraordinary Forgiveness Share on email
More Sharing Services 3. Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/US/cases-extraordinary-
Mooney, M. (2010). Ed Smart: Justice is Not Forgiveness. Retrieved from
The descendants [Motion picture]. (2011). United States: Fox Searchlight Pictures.
Radar Online. (2014). I’m ‘Just A Human Being’: Dean McDermott Admits He ‘Messed Up,’
But Deserves A Second Chance. Retrieved from
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