“Your soul craves forgiveness: forgiveness of self, forgiveness of others, and forgiveness of God. And for good reason, because it is through forgiveness that real freedom is achieved. A freedom that promises to open the door to lasting happiness and peace.” – excerpt from chapter 8 of Understanding The Jesus Code
THE FORTH FACE OF STRUGGLE: FORGIVENESS
FORGIVENESS OF SELF AND OTHERS
Sometimes it feels hard, if not impossible to forgive another, especially when the one who hurt us doesn’t ask for forgiveness, or worse, if they continue to hurt us. However, we are promised that forgiveness will lead to emotional freedom and happiness, while unforgiveness will hold us in a painful bondage. In the end, forgiveness is a gift we give ourselves and it does indeed set us free. The key is finding the path towards this freedom.
Forgiveness of Self
Experts say we have about 70,000 thoughts per day, 3,000 per hour and about 50 per second! Wow, that makes me tired just thinking about it! And many of these thoughts become part of the unconscious files we play over and over in our minds. Modern science now acknowledges that our thoughts directly impact our health and our happiness. However, being human comes with a guarantee – we will make mistakes, sometimes big ones! When we don’t forgive ourselves for the mistakes we have made then our thoughts become centered around the pain, the hurt and the belief that we should have done something differently. When we experience thoughts of this nature we become stuck in the past, doomed to experience the same or similar patterns over and over. We keep thinking the same painful thoughts and our thoughts eventually become our reality. Unfortunately, we often pass this pattern down to our children for them to pass down to their children and so it goes.
However, there can be another way, we can forgive ourselves so that we can have a different experience – one that is congruent with the life of happiness we want.
Forgiveness of Others
When others hurt us it can sometimes feel almost impossible to forgive them, especially when the one who harmed us does not ask for our forgiveness. However, holding onto a grudge or unforgiveness only serves to hold us captive to harmful emotions – emotions that create disease and pain in our body. Sometimes it helps to forgive ourselves for believing we cannot forgive the other. Because, after all, all things are possible through Christ. Once this is done freedom through forgiveness becomes a possibility.
Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and thinking it will harm your enemy
– Nelson Mandela
Forgiveness Is Not Acceptance or Permission
Many of our wounds stem from painful childhood experiences or from abusive relationships. Where forgiveness is concerned it is important to remember that we are all accountable for the harm we bring upon another – especially a child or someone under our care. When someone chooses to continually bring harm into the life of another this too is something they will be accountable for. For our part, we are called to forgive. However, in cases like this we are also called to care properly for ourselves and sometimes this means parting ways with the one who harms. Forgiveness certainly does not give another permission to harm you again, nor does it claim that their behavior acceptable.
Shame vs. Guilt
Shame and guilt are both vital pieces to the forgiveness puzzle. Guilt, on one hand can help serve to keep our conscious clear. After all, no one likes feeling guilty. In this capacity guilt serves as a barometer of sorts, keeping us from slipping into behavior that could harm ourselves or another. With guilt we acknowledge that we did something wrong; however, we still hold on to the core believe that we are a good person.
However shame is different. Shame cuts deep to our core, it becomes part of who we believe we are. We believe that we are intrinsically bad and separate from forgiveness. This of course is a lie. Yes, we can commit some very horrendous actions; however, mercy is always available to us and we can choose to live again in the light of truth. Shame must be lifted if we are to walk in the happiness our hearts yearn for. Remember, our deepest pain can always be turned around and can serve for goodness. After all, once we have walked the mile walk we can more fully experience true empathy for someone caught in the depth of similar pain – who better to help pull someone up then the one who really understands their pain?
And God saw everything that he had made. And they were very good. And it became evening and morning, the sixth day. Genesis 1:31
“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” Luke 23:34
Forgiveness Circle Meditation
If you would like to grow in forgiveness and experience greater peace of heart I invite you to practice my Forgiveness Circle Meditation. This meditation will help you create thoughts that are congruent with forgiveness and the peace that accompanies it. Here is the link: Forgiveness Circle Meditation