I think a lot about forgiveness. I have come across some situations where I have found it so hard to forgive others at times. Yet, we are told to forgive those who trespass as we hope to be forgiven for our trespasses against others. Why? Why would the sages, and our Creator tell us to forgive?
Everyone has been hurt by the actions or words of someone they have trusted, or sometimes – if other’s opinions matter more – even by strangers.
I know that someone who called me “sister” betrayed my family, to where she was not concerned that my son might die, “None of my business.” This from a woman whose children I’d been there for, a person for whom I was there for many times. I could not believe the depth of betrayal from someone whom I’d given my love and self. I was angry. How dare she? I and my family retreated to the safety of our home and other friends. My family seemed to think that betrayal was, is, a part of life and my husband buried it deep. My son worked it out over time in his own way. I found myself questioning why I found it hard to forgive, why was there resistance?
I looked at what my definition of “forgiveness” is. To me, it is choosing to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge at someone’s seeming betrayal of me. That does not mean I absolve them of the responsibility, nor do I just trust them again… they have to build up that trust again. It also doesn’t mean I minimize what they did, nor rationalize or justify their actions. It just means that I have the power to let go of the energy going towards resentment and thoughts of revenge towards them.
It means I work it through for me, so their actions no longer have power over me and I take back the energy, power and control of my own life. Working this through for me involved looking at my refusal to let go of perceived power. I felt powerful and vindicated as a victim while thinking this person needs me and is in need of forgiveness and only I had the right and ability to give it. I also had the thought that forgiving her meant I was letting her off the hook and indicating I, and my family, had done something to deserve this betrayal. I had to work with my ego self to find my way back to peace and love.
Forgiveness is a process, it takes time. It’s not a date we can put in our calendar as “time to forgive deadline.” It might take some time to work through our emotional problems before we can truly forgive. Even when we know we are going to forgive someone, it probably is not going to happen right after the event. We have to work it through. If you find it difficult to forgive, you could write in a journal, pray or use guided meditation. You could also choose to talk with someone you’ve found to be trustworthy, wise and compassionate, such as a spiritual leader, a mental health counselor, or an impartial friend or family member who has wisdom and has given good guidance as a sounding board before.
There are many reasons to forgive. Holding onto resentment and revenge only hurts us, mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. Research has implied that anger is related to several health issues, such as cancer. Forgiveness can open the energy to increase your immune system, lower blood pressure, reduce stress, anxiety and depression, increase more loving relationships, and allow you to be in the present moment so that you can enjoy living in the now. Therefore, you have more energy to put towards the things of value to you, including more inner peace, and open to connection with the Divine.
I ended up working through my anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge by seeing this person as a divine child of our Creator who just blew a gasket and made some mistakes trying to find her own happiness. It took me about six months to really work it through. I did my best to put myself in her shoes, to make some assumptions as to why she did what she did and try to see life from her point of view. I chose to feel love for her the way I would for any sister; that we’d just had a disagreement and that it did not mean I had to cut her out of my life. That does not mean she’s ever apologized, nor does she act completely comfortable around me. Yet, I find inner peace and love with how I choose to experience and be with her. Will I forget what happened? No way. I may never really trust her again, yet I can love her for who she is and enjoy being in her presence again and trust that our Creator has my back. I feel at peace and love being with her again.
Forgiveness is really for you. If you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. When you embrace forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, gratitude and joy. You embrace being connected with the divine. You are the one who gets to live in the moment and not let your past experience dictate your future.
Forgiveness can take away any perceived power the other person wielded in your life; it lets you be free to claim your own power and choose where you direct your energy in the moment. Forgiveness can change your life, allowing you to connect and be open to peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing… able to connect with your true, divine self and our Creator.