From my earliest childhood memories, I can remember my parents drilling into me the need to forgive. If I teased my sisters, I needed to say I was sorry. Even if they taunted me and I responded (with force I might add), I still needed to apologize, “Sorrryyyyy,” I said. Sometimes it made things better, sometimes it did not.
And so it was that I taught my children. But I found it not so easy trying to force an apology from a child who felt victimized by their sibling. And even if I did force an apology, it lacked of sincerity. Somehow, with or without the apology, the children were able to move on.
Forgiveness from this perspective comes from a moral high ground. It is the right thing to do and so we do it. We are taught this by our parents and in Sunday school classes. Children must be taught the difference between right and wrong. They must be held accountable for their actions. But if we forgive because we have to or because we will be in “sin,” then have we really forgiven? If our “forgiveness” does not come from a place of authenticity and integrity, are we truly forgiving? What does this mean for us and for our relationships?
In my own transgressions with my wife, it was not so easy to move on. Even if an apology was made by either of us, thoughts still lingered. They haunted me long after the transgression ended. I regretted things said and done or tried to convince myself that I was wronged by my wife. Even with an apology, there was no peace. Forgiveness was not working like I thought it should. I was still a prisoner of my own thoughts.
I think this is why children are able to move ahead. They live in the present moment. Thoughts do not imprison children. We adults, however, will replay events over and over again in our heads. If this is so, then I submit that we truly have not let go of the transgression and true forgiveness has not happened. We are still prisoners and like a prisoner we are not free, free to live a full life in the present moment. (See sidebar Zen Koan, The Muddy Road)
Oh how we can torment ourselves and suffer. We carry things in our memory long past the hurt. And since we continue to feed the hurt; it continues to hurt us, our loved ones and all those we are in relationship with.
The Cost is High
What transgressions do we carry that we can never seem to let go of? What about the terrible things others did to us when we were young and could do nothing since we were so powerless? What shame do we feel when we do not live up to our own image of self worth? Because we need to get on with life, we bury these memories deep in the bank of our subconscious. The cost of borrowing from this bank is high. It costs us our energy, limits our wellbeing, and triggers our anger. This is because we bury more than just memories. We bury our life force too and this changes everything. Without adequate life force, we live a life of less: less joy, less health, less gratitude, less, connection, less love, less peace. At this point we have lost our freedom to be truly who we are capable of. We are prisoners in a jail cell created by our own mind.
Because these feelings are buried deep, we often have no conscious memory of them. Our belief is that if they are out of mind, then they can do no harm. Yet they control our life more than we could possibly know. Many people spend thousands of dollars in psychotherapy and take years to uncover these hidden beliefs and suppressed memories.
The memories are so entrenched they have the power to filter our life view to see the world the way our ego mind wants to see it, not the way it is. We continue to mull our thoughts over and over justifying our actions ensuring we are always the powerless victim. There is no peace for one whose mind churns so much. Many cannot sleep peaceably at night due to a busy mind.
There is Hope
What if we could view the world with a different paradigm? What if rather than being a powerless victim we consider the possibility that at some level we actually created the experience we had? Why would we do such a thing? Why would anyone choose to create conflict in their life? Life creates our experiences so we can learn from them. If we, however, suppress these memories, we cannot learn consciously. Thus, our learning comes through pain and suffering.
The Universe conspires to provide us with opportunities to love, often challenging us by creating the opposite of love.
A Course in Miracles asks, “What would you not accept, if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come are gently planned by One whose only purpose is your good.” W247.
If we can but embrace our power, view our life with the eyes of the Divine and let go of the past, what is occurring for you in the present will be transformational. Your relationships will change. Other people in the relationship will alter their interaction with you simply because you have made a choice to forgive.
Forgiveness at its highest level is not about forgiving another but forgiving self for creating the separation that leads to a disconnection from Source.
It is time to let go and forgive. Forgive yourself for not being good enough, for not living up to your standards, for creating separation and distance. Instead, feel the freedom of connection and love. Rumi said it best, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Dave Krajovic CPA