Join us today for the Saturday Night Special with Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey author of Forty Days to Forgiveness: A Christian’s Field Guide to the Forgiveness Journey...
In this episode Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey about forgiveness and why it's so important...
In tonight’s Saturday Night Special I interview Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey. I ask Ron about his journey and how it brought him to write a book about forgiveness. I also ask Ron to share with you what forgiveness is and why it is so difficult for us to do. Ron also shares with you how his approach to forgiveness is different.
Join in on the Chat below.
SNS 172: Saturday Night Special - Interview with Dr. Ronald Ramsey author of Forty Days to Forgiveness
[00:00:00] Scott Maderer: Welcome to tonight, Saturday Night Special episode 172.
[00:00:06] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: I'm Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey. I challenge you to invest yourself, invest in others. Develop your influence and impact the world by using your time, your talent, and your treasures to live out your calling. Having the ability to find true forgiveness is key, and one way to be inspired to do that is to listen to this The Inspired Stewardship Podcast with my friend Scott Mader.
[00:00:31] We all have a way that we feel we should be treated in the world. And when we're not treated that way the pri, the primal parts of our mind see that as a threat, see it as an infraction against our wellbeing. And so we look for ways to try and protect ourselves. And it's human nature for us to protect ourselves.
[00:00:54] So when someone, welcome
[00:00:56] Scott Maderer: and thank you for joining us on the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. [00:01:00] If you truly desire to become the person who God wants you to be, then you must learn to use your time, your talent, and your treasures for your true calling In the Inspired Stewardship Podcast, who will learn to invest in yourself, invest in others, and develop your influence so that.
[00:01:19] Can impact the world.
[00:01:21] In tonight's Saturday night special, I interview Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey. I asked Ron about his journey and how it brought him to write a book about forgiveness. I also asked Ron to share with you what forgiveness is and why it's so difficult for us to do, and Ron also shares how his approach to forgiveness is a little different.
[00:01:41] One area that a lot of folks need some help with is around the area of productivity. Getting not just more things done, but actually getting the right things done can be really tough. I've got a course called Productivity for Your [00:02:00] Passion that's designed to help you do this and then to hold you accountable and walk with you so that you can tailor productivity, not just to be getting more done, but actually getting the right things done.
[00:02:15] What's more, we take the approach of looking at your personality and how you actually look at things in the world and tailor the productivity system to your person. Because the truth is, a lot of the systems that are out there are written really well for somebody with a particular personality type. But if you have a different approach to things, they just don't work.
[00:02:37] But there's tools and techniques and approaches that you can take that will work for anyone, and we help you do that and productivity for your passion. Check it out firstname.lastname@example.org slash launch. Ronald D. Ramsey is a clinical chaplain, retired from corporate life after 25 year career as an [00:03:00] organization development consultant specializing in large scale culture change.
[00:03:04] After earning a doctorate in family therapy, he has worked as a licensed marriage and family counselor in private practice in 2017, he completed the requirements of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education for hospital chaplaincy with additional training in palliative care as well. The majority of his work since then has been with patients receiving palliative care in their families.
[00:03:28] Ronald is the author of the powerful book, 40 Days to Forgiveness, A Christian's Field Guide to the Forgiveness Journey. The book draws from Ron's experience as an organizational development consultant, his knowledge of the behavioral sciences and theological studies and his own unforgiveness challenges to lead readers on a life changing forgiveness journey.
[00:03:48] Welcome to the show, Ron.
[00:03:50] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Thank you. It's good to be here. Thanks for having me on. Absolutely.
[00:03:54] Scott Maderer: I'm excited to talk to you tonight. So what brought you to write a book on [00:04:00] forgiveness? That's a little bit of a different topic than I think most people would write on.
[00:04:04] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: After I retired, I went back to school to get my doctorate in marriage and family therapy.
[00:04:09] And as most people probably know, a doctorate requires a dissert. and you, I tried coming up with a topic and thought about several different things, but the one thing that I thought of that is pretty universal that everybody has a struggle with is forgiveness. So I did a little research and found out that there's been quite a bit of studies, behavioral science studies done on research on forgive.
[00:04:39] But there hadn't been a whole lot written in the Christian domain on forgiveness. Most of what's been written has to do with divine forgiveness, God's forgiveness of us. So I merged those two things together and saw that bringing behavioral science and bringing theology [00:05:00] together. And a book is something that was needed.
[00:05:03] And then my background is in training and development. I did that for 25 years. So I wrote the book more from the perspective of somebody who's trying to train or help you learn how to do something. Which is actually what my dissertation was on. It was on the topic of what are the things that help people learn to be for.
[00:05:26] So I blended those three things together to come up with this. So
[00:05:30] Scott Maderer: why did you feel like this topic was important? Why? Why? In theory you're doing a dissertation on something that you care about, hopefully, at least that's the hope.
[00:05:39] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: First of all, I think it's important because there's never been a single person that I've told.
[00:05:45] That I'm writing this book that hasn't said, Oh, I want a copy when you're done. It seems like just about everybody can point to some kind of unforgiveness in their life, whether it's major or minor, and then some people have been [00:06:00] traumatized in some ways. And need to need forgiveness as a way to help them overcome their trauma.
[00:06:06] But I also did it because I see that there's a difficulty in the church today with being non-judgemental and being forgiving. And I wanted to do something that I felt would make the greatest contribution to the quality of Christ's church on Earth. And so I think forgiveness is something that, that makes a significant contribution to the church as well.
[00:06:29] Scott Maderer: Wait you mean church people are occasionally non for.
[00:06:33] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Guilty as charged .
[00:06:34] Done. My point of finger at everybody else and four pointing back at me.
[00:06:39] Scott Maderer: So let me, When you talk about forgiveness, is this just forgiveness of others from your point of view, or do you include forgiveness of self?
[00:06:47] How what kind of, what does that idea
[00:06:51] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: cover? When you write a dissertation, you have to really narrow your topic down. So what I narrowed it down to is interpersonal [00:07:00] forgiveness. Okay? So it's forgiveness of one person who's been offended or hurt in some way by another person. This book does not deal with self-forgiveness.
[00:07:11] There are books out there that deal with that. And it doesn't deal with divine forgiveness. There's plenty of books out there. Deal with that. So it's, it is a narrow slice of interpersonal forgiveness.
[00:07:23] Scott Maderer: So how did your faith journey you mentioned you're working on the doctorate and you went and looked at what had been done in the Christian sphere.
[00:07:33] How did your actual faith journey bring you to the point of focusing on forgiveness? What was it about your journey that, that made you
[00:07:41] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: think that was a good. There's plenty of unforgiveness in my life. I'm sexually abused as a child, and that's been something that's been a challenge for me to overcome throughout my life.
[00:07:52] But there's also been a lot of unforgiveness that I've experienced in the workplace working in corporations, [00:08:00] not just of my own being mistreated by people, but also just watching. How difficult it is for other people to be forgiving in the workplace. So in my own faith journey I feel like forgiveness is something that I've needed to work on in order to build a stronger relationship between me and God.
[00:08:24] But I also found it to be particularly, Pertinent when I went back to school to study being a chaplain. I'm working as a chaplain now at a hospital here in the Detroit area. And just about everybody you talk to from a spiritual perspective who's a patient and a hospital. Has got some sort of unforgiveness that they're dealing with in their life.
[00:08:50] And research shows that overcoming unforgiveness can actually help improve our speed to recovery. So it's been a part of my faith [00:09:00] journey and my studies to be a chaplain as well. Yeah. Because people don't always understand that caring around mental. And emotional baggage can actually affect your physical health as
[00:09:11] So Oh, absolutely.
[00:09:13] And there's a lot of research on that. I actually read one study that was done of cancer patients, and they worked with one group of patients to deal with unforgiveness issues in their life, and they dealt with another group of cancer patients just with their spiritual. And what they found is that the patients who went through help with unforgiveness and were able to forgive infractions in their life, were actually able to heal from cancer quicker, were more likely to go into recidivism.
[00:09:49] So I thought that was an interesting study.
[00:09:51] Scott Maderer: Yeah. It would make sense though, because usually there's some sense of underlying trauma that. Causing the [00:10:00] unforgiveness. And I say that using that word broadly, but there's some sense of un unforgiveness I would imagine comes out of some sense of trauma usually.
[00:10:10] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Yes. Yeah. We think of trauma sometimes as being really serious, you went to war and Right. But that's not the case. Trauma can occur in very simple levels all the way through a dynamic range up to. Extreme trauma that's incapacitating. And when someone harms us or treats us in a way that we feel is unfair or unjust, we're experiencing to a milder or to a greater degree, a form of trauma.
[00:10:42] Scott Maderer: So what I'm a firm believer in kind of defining our terms, and we've been talking a lot about forgiveness, but what really is forgiveness? How is it defined?
[00:10:53] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: I don't really like the definition that behavioral science gives to us , but too many big words in it. The [00:11:00] way I look at it is that when you are unforgiving, you harbor resentments and harbor thoughts in your mind of how you might like to treat the other person on negative intentions is what I.
[00:11:14] And forgiveness is overcoming those negative intentions and replacing them with positive thoughts towards the other person while wishing wanting to treat the other person well. What I think's important to say is that forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean that you ever talk to the other person that you're forgiving.
[00:11:34] It's something that you do for yourself. So the thoughts that you have in your mind about how the other person's treated you and the narrative that you carry around with you is what unforgiveness is, and forgiveness is changing that narrative to look at from a different point of view, or look at the person that harmed you in some way separate from the act of un harming you because the [00:12:00] person and the actions are not necessarily the same.
[00:12:03] Scott Maderer: I think sometimes we see that in ourselves a little easier. Because think about it, when we're fighting with someone, what's one of the most common things we'll say that's not how I meant it. But for other people, we assume action and intent have to be aligned. Exactly.
[00:12:19] Yeah. For us. Oh no. That's not how I meant it. You shouldn't have taken it
[00:12:23] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: that way. Yeah. Can't you repeat my mind? Yeah. .
[00:12:26] Scott Maderer: According to my wife, I can't I've asked .
[00:12:30] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Oh, so you're normal? Yeah,
[00:12:32] Scott Maderer: I am. So why is forgiveness hard? Why do we have to work on it? What,
[00:12:38] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: what makes it difficult? I think it's.
[00:12:41] It goes back to our need to survive and our desire to create balance in our life. We all have a way that we feel we should be treated in the world. And when we're not treated that way the pri, the primal parts of our mind see that as [00:13:00] a threat. See it as an infraction against our wellbeing.
[00:13:03] And so we look for ways to try and protect our. And it's human nature for us to protect ourselves. So when someone treats us unjustly or treats us unfairly or does something to us that is different from how we wanna be treated we respond in a way that is protected. And once we do that, it creates what I call a life cycle of its own.
[00:13:27] Once you go into a state of protecting your. Then you begin to develop a narrative and a story, and that story tick on a life of its own, and you ruminate on it, and before you know it, your mind is in a rut thinking about how you've been mistreated. And then it becomes very difficult to undo that.
[00:13:46] It's like any other habit that's, that you try to undo that. That thinking about how you've been treated becomes habitual. And now you created a pattern of thought. It's [00:14:00] harder to break. So why is your approach, or how is your approach in the book? First off, what is the approach you have in the book that, you know, when you talk through forgiveness, and then how is it different than maybe what people have thought of or heard or done in the past when it works
[00:14:16] on forgive.
[00:14:16] My, in my previous career, I always worked in operations, so my job was to try and actually get behavior change. So I learned to operationalize Things that people needed to learn. And what I've tried to do here is the same thing with forgiveness. I've tried to operationalize it and put it into steps.
[00:14:39] So the steps in the forgiveness process that I've come up with, spell out the word action. Where the A stands for acknowledging how you've been treated and how it's affecting you. The C stands for making a commitment. Unless we make a commitment to try to forgive, we're not going to forgive. The T [00:15:00] stands for transitioning from a negative way of thinking to a positive way.
[00:15:04] The I is internalization, which means building a different internal frame of reference for how you think about what's happened to you. From a Christlike perspective, the O stands for openness to actually be willing to accept what you've learned through the first few steps. and to actually embrace change or a different way of thinking.
[00:15:28] And then the in is stands for nurturing the change that you've experienced taking next steps. It's a myth to think that when we forgive someone, we forget about it. You can't forget about it. You can't un, you can't unthink something that you've learned to think you can't undo something that you've.
[00:15:52] So nurturing what you've learned and nurturing your journey going forward is a critical part of [00:16:00] maintaining and sustaining a a state of unfor forgiveness that you've transitioned into a state of forgiveness. And as part of that, I think with the nurturing, especially I know a lot of people.
[00:16:12] Scott Maderer: A and my, I myself have done this where I feel like I've quote forgiven somebody. But then it bubbles back up a year or two years, or three years later. Sure. Because of something else that happens is that a very common pattern that people
[00:16:27] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: play out? Yeah, absolutely. In the unconscious part of our mind, we look for patterns in the world around us, and when we see something that is reminiscent of how we were hurt or harmed in the past, it can trigger us back into the same kind of thinking.
[00:16:44] It all comes. To our mind just like what happens in posttraumatic stress syndrome when a person has flashbacks of something that's happened, that gets triggered by something that's happening in the present. So one of the [00:17:00] topics that you mentioned in the book is this unforgiveness life cycle.
[00:17:04] Scott Maderer: Can you talk a little bit more about what that is and how that plays out for.
[00:17:09] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Sure. I call it a life cycle because the things that happen when we experience a threat of some sort are like dominoes that fall in a pattern. We experience a threat to our wellbeing. We have an emotional reaction to it.
[00:17:25] And by emotional, primary emotions, which are the emotions that come as standard equipment like anger, disgusted. Things that you don't really have a lot of conscious thought about. They just happen and they happen in our body. And when that occurs, that leads us to evaluating what's happened and developing a cognitive set of feelings that we're experiencing.
[00:17:53] And at that point, we try to cope with it. And if we can cope with what's happened to us, then we don't necessarily [00:18:00] go into a state of unforgiving. But when we can't cope, then we begin to think about how are we gonna respond? How are we gonna protect ourselves? And in doing that, it's easy for us to develop negative images about the other person and how we'd like to treat them.
[00:18:17] And those negative images. Begin to take on a narrative about what happened. And that narrative begins to build and grow. And we think it over in our mind and we ruminate about it and we tell other people about it. And as we do that we have new negative intentions for how we wanna respond. And the cycle just keeps going around and around in a circle.
[00:18:40] And that's why I call it a life cycle because it unforgiveness takes on a life of its, ,
[00:18:46] Scott Maderer: where in that cycle is the point for most people that you can come in? I guess what I'm asking is when you see someone who's in this as an outsider looking in I know [00:19:00] I've got friends, I've got family members that I know, I can see that they're in this pattern.
[00:19:05] What are some of the things that we can do to maybe help them recognize it or begin to move?
[00:19:12] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: There's a couple of ways to take a look at that and to answer that question. One is how a person is coping with what happened to 'em and in the book 40 Days to Forgiveness. I have a section in it about coping.
[00:19:27] There's a survey that I designed where you can assess what your common coping style. And then try to determine whether or not there's a more effective way that you can cope with what's happened. But from a Christian point of view, that's more from a secular point of view. From a Christian point of view I take a look at forgiveness from a godly perspective.
[00:19:51] From the perspective that when we internalize what's happened to us, we internalize it into a godly [00:20:00] state in our. And that comes from spiritual maturity and spiritual maturity. I've narrowed down to four things. Prayer, meditation, scripture, study, and fellowship. So another thing that I do in 40 days to forgiveness is I talk about how we can build our spiritual maturity so that our heart can le through the love of Christ, can bleach through out of our.
[00:20:28] toward the person that we have unforgiving feelings towards. But the one common element whether you look at it from a secular or you look at it from a Christ Center point of view, is empathy. The thing that we can help another person do who's stuck in a state of unforgiveness is try to look at what's happened to.
[00:20:48] From the other person's perspective, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're justifying what they did or that you agree with it, but sometimes when we reframe the problem or reframe the experience and look at it from [00:21:00] other points of view, that helps us to create a different way of thinking about it. It helps us to break down the log jam of rum, ruminating thoughts that are going through our mind.
[00:21:13] So empathy is a. Component and empathy is something that can be learned. Just like forgiveness is a skill that can be. .
[00:21:20] Scott Maderer: And I think it's important, as you said when you were talking about empathy, cuz I know a lot of people that think if I empathize with someone, it means I'm saying what they're saying or feeling is okay and it's it's, Yeah, not at all.
[00:21:32] Empathy and agreement are not the same thing. .
[00:21:35] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: No. In fact people, people need to be accountable for what they do to harm other people. It doesn't mean that we have to agree with them in order to forgive them.
[00:21:45] Scott Maderer: So before I ask a few questions that I'd like to ask every guest is there anything else you'd like to share about the 40 days
[00:21:53] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Book?
[00:21:54] I think it's important to think about forgiveness from the perspective of a journey. When [00:22:00] I was working on my dissertation, one of the people that helped me was a professor at Virginia Commonwealth Univers. Who's done a lot of research, He's a Christian professor, and one of the things he impressed on me is that when you do your study, look at forgiveness from the perspective of ti time.
[00:22:20] It's not so much that time heals all wounds. That's a myth, but it's from the perspective of it takes time. Forgiveness doesn't happen in a snap. It takes time for it to happen. And so the book is written from the perspective of taking 40 days. I pick 40 because that's how long Jesus was in the wilderness, and that's how long it rained on Noah.
[00:22:45] It seemed to be a good biblical number. We really need to work on it as a journey. And the book is broken into 40 days or 40 sections, and each one only takes about a half an hour to 40 minutes to complete. [00:23:00] So it's important that we look at forgiveness as a journey and not as something that we can do in a, in this blink of an eye.
[00:23:08] Scott Maderer: My brand is inspired stewardship, and I talk about stewardship a lot. That's the language that I use for things. And yet I discovered that that's one of those words that means different things to different people. So like I said earlier, I kinda like to define terms.
[00:23:25] So for you, what does the word stewardship mean, and what is the impact of that understanding been on your life?
[00:23:30] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: I think stewardship is taking care of what God's given us. Being responsible for something that we don't own, but something that has been entrusted to our care. And in the case of forgiveness, I think about what is it that we take with us when we go to heaven?
[00:23:48] And one of the things we take with us is relationships with other people. We're told that we'll be known as we are known we're gonna, we're gonna meet up with other people. That we've known when we were on [00:24:00] Earth, and so we have stewardship of the relationships that we have in our life and building stronger relationships and positive relationships that are built around love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and so forth is something that we're stewards of that we need to take care of.
[00:24:20] God's entrusted us with relationships with other people. So this is my favorite
[00:24:25] Scott Maderer: question, though. I've been told by a few guests that it's their least favorite question we'll see how, we'll see how you feel about it. If I invented this magic machine and I could pluck you out of the chair where you sit today and transport you into the future, a hundred to 150 years.
[00:24:42] and through the power of this machine, you were able to look back on your entire life and see all of the connections, all of the relationships, all of the impacts and ripples that you've left behind. What impact do you hope you've had
[00:24:54] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: on the world? I think writing this book and leaving this book behind is [00:25:00] probably the most impactful thing I've done because it will continue on after I'm gone.
[00:25:05] It's a ministry is the way I. Besides that, the impact I'm leaving on the world is as a marriage counselor, one couple at a time as a chaplain, one patient as a time. And those are things that I value too, that I feel like God's given me stewardship of. So
[00:25:23] Scott Maderer: what's on the roadmap? What's coming next for you as you continue
[00:25:26] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: on this?
[00:25:27] Right now I'm just trying to get my book into as many people's hands as I can because I believe that it will change the church. It'll change people's lives, and I feel like God's called me to this ministry and wanna see it be fruitful. So that's one thing that's on the horizon. Another thing is I've been thinking about another book.
[00:25:53] This book looks at unforgiveness from the perspective of the person who's been harmed. [00:26:00] I'd like to write a book that looks at forgiveness from the perspective of the person who's the harmer. How do we get people to be more kind so that we don't get ourselves in a position where other people need to be forgiving?
[00:26:14] So I've been giving some thought to that in deciding whether or not I wanna embark on a journey of writing another book. But beyond that, just to continue doing the marriage counseling that I do and coaching people on unforgiveness and working with patients in the hospital. Awesome.
[00:26:32] Scott Maderer: You can follow Ron on Instagram or Facebook as 40 Days to Forgiveness or find out more about the book and more on his website. 40 days to forgiveness.com and that is spelling that out as words, not the number 40 or the numerals 40. Juan, is there anything else you'd like to share with the
[00:26:53] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: listeners?
[00:26:53] The only other thing is that I do have a free download on my website, so if you go there and [00:27:00] look, you'll be able to see what that is and be able to download that to help you on your forgiveness journey.
[00:27:07] Scott Maderer: Awesome. That's a wonderful gift. And of course I'll have links to all of that over the show notes as well.
[00:27:12] Thanks for coming on the show.
[00:27:14] Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed talking with you.
[00:27:16] Scott Maderer: Thanks so much for listening to the Inspired Stewardship Podcast. As a subscriber and listener, we challenge you to not just sit back and passively listen, but act on what you've heard and find a way to live your calling. If you enjoyed this episode please do us a favor. Go over to inspired stewardship.com/.
[00:27:42] iTunes rate all one word, iTunes rate. It'll take you through how to leave a rating and review and how to make sure you're subscribed to the podcast so that you can get every episode as it comes out in your feed. [00:28:00] Until next time, invest your time, your talent, and your treasures. Develop your influence and impact the world.
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We all have a way we feel we should be treated in the world and when we aren’t treated that way the primal parts of our mind see that as a threat. – Dr. Ronald D. Ramsey
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