Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Forgiveness

"Giving Up The Hope That The Past ...

From Tyler Perry's play, Madea's Happy Family.
Sage advice on the healing power of forgiveness

Could Have Been Any Different." (Guest on Oprah Winfrey)


A key action in the process of spiritual growth, forgiveness is the most powerful thing we can do to heal ourselves and heal those around us.  As we journey along our life path, we run into individuals and situations which cause us harm.  These situations occur for our growth.  We are to learn the lessons and apply the lessons to our life.  But in order to truly grow, lighten and let go, we must forgive those involved, forgive the situation and forgive ourselves.

Forgive by surrendering the situation.
Just as Madea said in the above video, when we refuse to forgive someone, we give our personal power away.  By not forgiving, we allow the person involved to still have a hold on us.  Forgiveness can, therefore, be a very difficult thing to do.  It is hard because we associate it with the idea that what the person did as being OK, when in actuality it's the exact opposite.

When the act of forgiveness is initiated, you are letting go.  Letting go of the past and, as the above quote from the Oprah Winfrey Show suggests, letting of the "hope that the past could have been any different."  It is a terrible, horrible experience to be treated so wrongly by another.  Our feelings are badly hurt, and our life is altered so immensely that it is only natural to hold resentment.  If we "never forgive him/her for what they did!", then they will always be a part of us and our lives.

A perfect example is the man or woman who has had their heart broken by the betrayal of their spouse or partner.  Having experienced this myself, I can say that the intensity of the emotions I felt were like nothing I had experienced before or since.  Many people who have experienced this deep betrayal, keep it with them so they "never have to go through that again."  As life carries on, each relationship after, suffers because of the unwillingness to forgive.  Each partner ends up being punished for something someone else did, a long time ago, because we are unable to completely let go and trust.  Years may pass and still, this person or situation has a hold over us because we have not forgiven.

As a result it is important to make a conscious choice to forgive, which is often quite difficult.


Marianne Williamson, Forgiveness and A Course In Miracles

The foundation of the teaching of A Course In Miracles is the act of forgiveness.  True peace can not be attained until we forgive.  This is when we are uplifted enough to see the miracles in our lives.  I love Marianne Williamson's interpretation and presentation of the Course.  She understands the difficulty in forgiving.  I remember reading a quote once where she stated that "through gritted teeth we acknowledge the innocence in the person who wronged us."  I just loved that.  Moving forward on the act of forgiveness can be quite difficult and I appreciate that the Course acknowledges this.  You don't have to come from a Christ like, elevated state of being in order to begin the process of forgiveness.  I like these following quotes, from Williamson, which help to put forgiveness into perspective:

  • "Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness." 
  • "Forgiveness begins with the willingness to forgive, and sometimes that is the hardest part." 
  • "The past doesn't determine your future unless you carry it with you into the present. Forgiving yourself and others, you free the universe to begin again at any moment." 

    As mentioned before, forgiveness is not the act of saying the wrong that was done to you is OK, because, it wasn't. Forgiveness is letting the situation go, by learning the lessons that were presented. In other words, let go of what happened, but never forget what that person is capable of.  Part of  learning also entails forgiving ourselves for what we did to set the whole situation in motion, even if it is as simple as forgiving the act of allowing the person into our life in the first place.

    Click here for a wonderful nine minute segment by Marianne Williamson on Oprah radio,  


    How To Forgive

    Everyone has their own process when it comes to forgiveness.  Personally, I have found the process to be different every time.  No two situations are alike and neither is the pain produced.  But their are some basic processes I do go through every time to "get the ball rolling."
    • Meditate.  It is important to meditate and reflect on the situation a bit so you can release the negative emotions you may be carrying around in regards to your situation.  I find meditation helps me discern between the real and imagined.  The only thing that's real is the present moment.  This hurt occurred in the past and is only a part of my reality because I am choosing to hold on to it. 
    • Surrender.  After pinpointing the hurt you are carrying, it is time to acknowledge that it is simply energy.  Do your best not to get caught up in the emotions which are allowing the energies to stick around.  Step back and visualize the energy leaving your body.  You may still feel some of the emotion, but it will feel more like an observance, not an experience. 
    • Repeat the first two steps until the situation no longer resonates with you.  It may take a day, it may take a year, but eventually complete forgiveness will be attained and you'll be able to move on.
    Here are some great resources on how to forgive, which I found while researching this post.  Be sure to check them out.
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