Lessons In FORGIVENESS
We seem to think that if we give our forgiveness, we are giving the offender in our eyes a pass. No. Nope. No way. Uh uh. Not at all. Forgiving doesn’t condone what the person did, it doesn’t green-light the behavior—remember, they have to live with themselves too, and no matter what stories they may tell in justification, no matter where they go, what they did is etched within them and you cannot escape Yourself.
Wherever You go, there You are.
Forgiveness Says, “Release Yourself…”
Forgiveness doesn’t say ‘oh it’s ok, it’s fine that you stomped all over me and treated me as if I were this expendable thing.’ Forgiveness doesn’t say that at all! She says, “release yourself from the anger, hurt, pain, fear and guilt. Unchain you from you, untangle yourself from these feelings you harbor of a past that you cannot change. There is nothing in the recycling of those feelings that serve you any good. It is detrimental to Your Health, to Your Well-Being.”
There is nothing in the replaying of those events that serve you as long as you view them through the clenched jaws of a closed Heart. Being unforgiving is akin to sentencing yourself and living in a Spiritual Jail with YOU as the bail bondsman, judge, jury, warden and parole officer—you are never free from that bondage of pain, fear, guilt and anger. You are never Fully Free, to Be Freely You. You are you with all of that in the form of bulky baggage and it affects every single relationship you are in or will be in…
Forgiveness urges us to put down them bags, they’re wayyyy over the limit to FLY! You cannot move forward and onward as long as you are nursing pent up anger from past events. And I say this to you from LOTS of experience. If I didn’t learn to let go and forgive, I would be an old wrinkled up prune by now, continuously circling the wagons of anger and bitterness because I was still mad about things that occurred in my past. Now granted, I had every right to be furious ’cause the crap that went down was focked up, but the fury I harbored only kept me locked up and a continuous victim…which no doubt played a major role in relationships.
When The Examples Were Less Than Stellar…
I come from a family of Gold Medal winning Olympic Grudge-Holders, the BEST in the business. Nobody can keep a grudge better than those folks could. But oh man, the havoc it wrought. I remember feeling really bad to hear one of my uncles over the phone totally bereft after the sudden death of his brother, my uncle. But ya know what he was torn up about the most? It wasn’t just the fact that his brother was gone suddenly, but that he had not spoken to him for two years over a stupid STOOOOPID argument….
But it was a lifestyle, a family pattern, the way of being for those folks—fight over stupid sh*t not speak for eons, make up, repeat. There was a lot of blame going around, a lot of hurt feelings in that family– a lot of ‘I’m right and you’re wrong-isms!’ A lifelong family history of anger-bashing as each sibling had their own ax to grind within the family dynamics was something to witness. If you come from a contentious family, you, the reader may be able to relate.
Sadly, in this case, that pattern played out until somebody reached the grave.
The WHY of Forgiving…
The why of forgiving is actually quite simple: if you want to Evolve, to be more of your Loving, Compassionate, Peaceful and Wiser Self, to do that, forgiveness is key. If you want to let go of the mental ball and chain of guilt, anger, despair, blame and anguish, forgiving is key. And if none of that is high on your list here’s one for ya–when you are in a place of being able to forgive, that paves the way for BETTER RELATIONSHIPS!
It’s pret-ty hard bringing your best self to relationships with all that baggage. But that’s what we do, we bring all of our STUFF into relationships and want the other person to fix it. NOT GONNA HAPPEN. Wounded beings expecting the other wounded being to make us happy. That formula never works to make a happy place.
All of our stuff comes out in relationships–the ones we have with others and the one with ourselves. Each person in our lives serves as a mirror in one aspect or another. When we are unforgiving, we wanna blame people, we want to hold others responsible and accountable for our sh*t! But everything ultimately boils down to Perspective. Are you going to allow past hurts to eat you up, turn you bitter and scared? Every time you choose to be unforgiving that’s what happens. Or are you going to look for the lessons contained within those situations?
When You Decide to Give Forgiveness a Chance…
You may see, though painful, that every experience good or bad contributes to Your Life Journey. And mannnnnnn, that’s freeing in and of itself! As I said, it’s not that the thing or things that occurred weren’t horrific, traumatizing, wrong, etc. but they are things that happened. When you give forgiveness a chance, you may further realize, (especially if you forgive YOURSELF too) that those things that happened are not YOU.
They are not who you are. They are a part of Your Story, they are NOT Your Story. These are hurtful things that you’ve experienced and if you don’t allow them to chew you up inside they can potentially become lessons.
When you can get to a place of forgiveness it’s like unhitching a too-tight bra or too snug pants, it’s like taking off a pair of shoes that make your feet howl! As I explored my own Personal Growth and began to let go of baggage, I saw that people do the best they can with what they know. As that saying goes, “when you know better, you do better.”
Of all the great things I have Experienced and been a part of in my Lifetime, I hold forgiving my family to be one of my biggest accomplishments. There are folks I NEVER thought I’d be able to forgive. But when I did get to that point, I felt FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.
Now if the other person isn’t willing to change, don’t wait, YOU change. Whether they get on board or not, YOUR Healing is what’s important. I had one friend in particular that didn’t get it, she thought I was bonkers in forgiving a family member. ‘How could You?’
How could I not?
YES. Forgiveness is Freeing BUUUUUUTTTT I Should Tell You…
By the time that particular family member left this world, I had long made peace about the past…or so I thought…
The thing with forgiveness is that it can be like having to go down to renew your driver’s license—as time goes on that forgiveness may expire if you find there are deeper layers of that hurt and pain connected to the past. But it’s not failure, it’s not that you didn’t forgive—you did. But now the deeper layers float to the surface out of the darkness for You to Shine The Light Upon.
Though we had become friends, my stepmom and I have had our battles over the years and one day on the phone a few years back, I erupted into shrieking at her at the top of my lungs as our conversation on a then current event turned contentious and then traveled to the past where we had quite different views on the sequence of events and on some events in general. I became very agitated and before I knew it, I gave Voice to my 9 year old self letting her know that none of the adults in the equation advocated to my being alright in the sudden loss of my mother. That they were all calloused and forgot about the little girl in the room who was hurting. That every decision carried out didn’t take that little girl’s feelings into account at all.
You see, I had never ever dealt with that level of pain, the pain of my 9 year old self who had no Voice. I had never touched that depth of pain. I was ignorant to its existence. Wey-all, not no more.
By the end of the phone call I was screaming and wailing like a banshee totally out of control. I was in such a state that I scared the crap outta my partner. I had called him right after the fight and he came by so fast, poor baby he was so scared. It takes an awful lot to make me angry. To lose control, almost never.
When the smoke cleared, or I should say when the waterworks slowed and I was thinking more clearly, I forgave her again and MYSELF because no matter what she said in that phone call, ultimately, I was not proud of MY response no matter how justified it was. I knew better. The ONLY thing we Truly have governance over is OURSELVES.
How to become your own best friend is in relinquishing the hold on old slights, trespasses and baggage, for while it doesn’t change what happened, it changes how much POWER it has over you.
Oh yeah, and just because you forgive someone, it doesn’t mean you have to be best buds…you can forgive someone and stay the heck away from them ’cause you can’t use their toxic air.
Let Your Inner Light SHINE!
We ALL want to be seen, but you must see YOURSELF first. You gotta shine the Light on YOU. Forgiveness opens the way to Your Inner Compassion Center. It is not the same as agreeing with someone, it is an Agreement you make with yourself to do no harm to YOU. Harboring anger, guilt, fear, and bitterness is doing harm to yourself. It robs YOU of a True Presence, of Being Present. Take that anger, don’t deny it but take it and channel it into things that are Progressive, are Positive, are USEFUL.
When you Forgive, the past no longer has you in thrall.
Lift the veil of anger like the fog lifts. Acknowledge it’s there, seek The Lessons, Forgive, and let that sh*t go.
Quoting myself here, “Forgiveness—it ain’t for them, it’s for YOU. It sets You FREE.”
If you’re stuck or know someone who is stuck and want tools to help release resistance to letting go and delve into the Practice of Mindfulness, consider looking into my 4-week eBook series 7 Daily Thoughts & Mantras 4 Mindfulness—Keys 4 Stress Relief & Personal Growth. They are colorful, beautiful and short guides for the busy person and make wonderful gifts at any time of year.
Also available in audiobook form.
You can also order a custom guided meditation to help in opening your heart to forgive.
If you have been able to free yourself through forgiveness, please share your comments below…