(an encore post by Cecil Murphey)
That's the wrong way to ask. Should implies being pushed or forced to forgive. And well-meaning friends tend to push us to forgive those who hurt us.
My answer is simple: Forgive when you are ready. Until a man is able to lay aside the anger and pain, he may say, "I forgive," but he doesn't let it go.
Here's how I did it. I prayed daily for my two perpetrators. I prayed for God to help me want to forgive them. I struggled so much over what they had done to me, I felt a kind of justification in despising them.
I must have prayed as I did for a few weeks, and one day I thought of the two people. Although both were now dead, I tried to think how they must have felt. I'm sure they knew what they did was immoral. Wrong. Sinful. Horrible.
So why did they do it? Not everyone agrees with me, but I think they were compelled—I call it an addiction—and molesting a child was a kind of temporary fix for their overwhelming need.
But to call it an addiction of compulsion seemed to de-humanize them. I thought of their inner suffering. I wondered if they hated themselves for what they did. How could they not?
I was finally able to grasp they were hurting people, individuals who knew they were doing wrong but seemed unable to stop themselves.
That's when I was able to forgive them.