Forgiveness is a tricky thing. It’s often talked about, often suggested, but not easy to do, and not easy to work through. I’ve read many articles on forgiveness where the virtues of doing so are extolled and benefits to oneself are offered as an inducement to try. But what I don’t see is talk of how really difficult it can be, and how it can take time, and how it requires fortitude, on top of every thing else. But for all that, it is worth it. The theme of this blog is “being HERE now.” I attest to the fact that forgiveness, truly and honestly, is one of the very best ways to unstick yourself from the past. I’ve worked my own way through forgiveness and have learned a lot about the process. I’ve read a lot, felt a lot, and bumbled through a lot. Here’s what I have learned about what forgiveness can do for you, and, in part 2 of this post, I'll offer some tips on how to do it.
First, some thoughts on forgiveness. Don’t allow yourself to forget the fact that it is for you. The act of mentally unhinging from a painful experience, event, person, act, whatever, allows the hook that was embedded in your mind to fly free. Sure, someone who has hurt you may look upon your working to find forgiveness as a gift, and certainly they will benefit, but the true freedom is for you. It has to be. Forgiveness never really works when you’re trying to do it FOR someone. And here’s what I know for sure about forgiveness: it allows peace to flow where pain and anger did before. True peace. Like a feeling of freedom and relief like you’ve never known. Like bubbling up with laughter for no apparent reason. Like vapors of joy surrounding you like a mist. Like freeing your mind to experience the beauty of what is happening right now.
Sounds nice, right? You want that, right? YES!! But…it’s true. It takes work and time. Also, I’ve found, a certain grieving process as well. Often the pain we feel is a very real part of us. We nurture it and feed it until, in its own weird, twisted way, it becomes a source of strength for us. We say to ourselves, “I’ve been knocked down, dragged out, but still I survived. See! I have all this pain to show for it, BUT STILL I STAND. And by the way, I am not taking any of your crap either.” And it’s true. Being through stuff does make us strong, or RATHER: it shows us how strong we already are, but we don’t need to hang on to the event or the person that hurt us to show us what we are. The strength is in letting that horror go, sometimes even being sad to let it go because, in a way, we are losing a weapon, and continuing to be strong, knowing that we have endured, and we have blossomed and can smile and be joyous because we have learned the depth of what we truly are.
Sometimes we think, “If I let this pain go, what do I have left? Who am I without this pain?” What do we use to let someone know how much we’ve been hurt? I am here to tell you that forgiveness allows you to let even that go. You will no longer need to let someone know how they’ve hurt you and what pain you’re in. Because that event, that situation, that person: it won’t be causing you any. (Caveat here: it is true that people who've hurt you in the past can still be causing you pain in the present. Work on forgiveness for past misdeeds, but the hurting in the present is something I'll tackle in a future post: The proper care and feeding of boundaries.)
Let's cogitate on this. Part 2, with some very practical tips coming with in 24 hours. Believe me, there's some good stuff in there.