Throughout our lives we have an opportunity to forgive people. The gift of forgiving allows for a huge opportunity to grow the spirit.
What is forgiveness? How do you go about forgiving? What happens when you actually go ahead and forgive?
Forgiving requires a courageous choice. The courageous choice is whether you are willing to consent to this healing. In Greek, to forgive means “to let go.” Forgiveness is offered without conditions. Using techniques such as forgiveness meditation/prayers or stopping to apply internal reflection, forgiveness can be centered on someone alive or someone who has passed on. In letting go and forgiving, the process is not about wishing they would change.
Forgiveness should not be confused with reconciliation. Reconciliation requires mutual interest with someone alive and restores the relationship or situation.
Many times, at the deepest core of our heart, it takes an abundance of courage to forgive. If you have read any of my courage postings you know that the origin of the word courage is corage, Medieval Old French meaning “heart and spirit.” For me, there are times I can sense I have built up resentment toward someone—they didn’t do what I wanted them to do or expected them to do. When my projected expectations are not met, I allow the ego to create modes of suffering. The suffering shows up in many forms such as incessant mind chatter or in the evening when I am unable to go to sleep because I have become obsessed in the resentment.
If I am a witness to the suffering I have created I can ask myself, “Do I want to give up my resentment?” Catherine Ponder said, “When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” Without the process of forgiveness, a hole in my spirit widens.
Forgiveness is a process of the heart. If I apply energy (the word virtue in Latin, means “energy”) from my reservoir of courage to “step up” and forgive, then it benefits me to let go of those harmful emotions that perpetuate the lingering suffering such as fear, angry or pride. Energy follows intentions. I can forgive, and choose life! Embracing my courage, I am able to forgive and move on.
I asked myself three reflective questions and responded with answers. Why don’t you do the same?
- In what ways do I resist forgiving others?
- After a period of critical reflection, I answered this question: “When I resist forgiving others I know I am egocially attached to my judgments about how they are wrong and I am right.” Creating and living in this duality (wrong versus right) is not how I choose to live my life. Duality (pretty/ugly; bad/good; black/white; peace/war; hubris/humility) keeps me stuck in a vicious pattern of behavior.
- In what ways do I resist forgiving myself?
- Applying vulnerability to my courage I responded with these insights: My berating manifests in a variety of ways such as my embarrassment that I would be so righteous in thinking I was better and more “special” than another human being. Forgiving myself requires that I recognize these lower levels of courage consciousness. Then, I can start to adjust by behaviors and grow spiritually.
- What will I achieve if I forgive?
- When I choose to forgive those who are alive and who have passed on, I am free—free from being stuck in the past. I am no longer a victim attached to my worn-out scripts about what they did to me. I can apply my God-given, everyday courage to consciously choose a different, functional path. Soon I am no longer attached to incidents of the past, and my suffering starts to diminish. My heart has more “space” to invite grace or what I call “where courage meets grace.”
Forgiveness opens a new space in the heart and this space radiates goodness. The famous Indian mystic and enlightened master Osho said, “The heart is always right—if there’s a question of choosing between the mind and the heart—because mind is a creation of the society. It has been educated. You have been given it by the society, not by existence. The heart is unpolluted.”
What goes through your heart changes you! Many spiritual people showed us this energy such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Mother Teresa and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. When you identify, claim and apply the original definition of courage, you develop a “courageous will” to forgive. Then, you’re the one who is set free. You receive the blessing. This divine grace consumes your heart.
Who is it that you want to forgive?
July was Global Forgiveness Day.
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