Updated: Sep 24, 2021
I believe that forgiveness is grace, and, that like everything else, it comes through us. As I see it, forgiveness is not an act of will. If that’s the case, all we need to do is to show up and be willing. To look without judgment of ourselves or others—without regret over the past and without fear of the future—is to really see. Let us look at one another with eyes that see the beauty in our beloved sisters and brothers and in ourselves.
When we’re in relationship with beloved others, we carry with us all the relationships we’ve had in the past including those with our birth family, friends, and former partners. The hurt that we are now healing may have been ‘delivered’ by any number of people and circumstances from the past. That we feel it afresh is the very meaning of resentment, that is, re + sentiment, to feel an old feeling again and again.
In our relationships with others we act as angels, raising our wings to create sanctuary for one another. We wish to treat one another and ourselves with deepest respect and gentleness. We do our best to see the past with goodwill. And the work takes the time it takes. We can present ourselves for healing; we can stay with our feelings as they come up.
Allowing ourselves to heal and become our own beloved and a worthy beloved in
all our relationships is an act of exquisite
We’re showing up for this. I think we all deserve Olympic medals.
What a wonderful thing it is that forgiveness naturally follows healing. When we’re current with one another and take exquisite care of ourselves, forgiveness becomes an easy natural flow..
On the other hand, it is not surprising when we discover that what’s healing is pain from the distant past, perhaps even from earliest memory, the process of forgiveness becomes much more significant. As we release the pain of the past, we become ready to forgive those we think harmed us. Since the wounds often were incurred long ago, we may have held the hurt for such a long time that even the thought of forgiveness is difficult. We can’t force forgiveness on ourselves. When we’re in the midst of healing, we can honor the process and trust ourselves to come through to the other side. Sometimes the pain may be so great that the best we can do is to separate ourselves from the person or people who harmed us while we do our healing work.
Interestingly enough, it sometimes happens that although the healing may be complete, we still view someone as guilty for a past hurt. When we hold onto resentment, we feel the old hurt again and again. When we begin to release others from our feelings of being wounded, our relationships can shift from pain to peace. When the time is right, forgiveness is easy. We may find ourselves just letting go.
When we forgive others, we are actually
doing it for ourselves.
PRACTICE: On the Path to Forgiveness If we find that we’re holding onto feelings of being wronged even as the healing is releasing us from the pain of the wound itself, we can use this practice. This can be done all at once or in stages as our hearts begin to heal.
Let’s go back to our earliest memories and make a thorough list of everyone we resent or feel has hurt us through the years to the present.
Let’s pray for each person on the list everyday for two weeks wishing them all the good we wish for ourselves. Let’s be creative in our prayers.
Let’s add our own name to the list and pray for ourselves.
If the list is long, we may want to set aside two week prayer times for a few names at a time.
The purpose of forgiveness is for giving love.
The heart knows the way to forgiveness.
Let’s listen attentively, and it will lead us back to peace.
(Adapted from Great Love in the 21st Century: A Path to Intimacy, pages 162-164)