Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Today is Forgiveness Day

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Okay, so I’m declaring a personal holiday. The reason I know I need to think about forgiveness is that I’m going to court this morning as plaintiff in a civil suit. I genuinely want to arrive at an equitable and fair solution, yet I also feel these emotions of tension and hurt. Forgiveness is the only way I know to let those things go.

I wrote a series on forgiveness after attending the Harvard Medical School conference on the same subject several years ago (you can find it on my articles page if you like). The two concepts that have stuck with me since then are:

  1. Forgiveness is not about excusing the other, but about releasing resentment. This helps you more than anyone else, because resentment eats away at you and doesn’t affect the other person at all.
  2. Empathy is a way to find forgiveness. Meaning, trying to understand why the person did what they did helps let go of resentment. Again, not to excuse or condone. But to achieve peace of mind for yourself.

Thankfully, you don’t even have to discuss this with the other party. But what you are doing is adopting a frame of mind that ensures fairness. If you can get over your resentment, you are much more likely to be able to formulate a fair and equitable solution. If you’re mad, though, you just want revenge.

A couple years after my husband and I split up, we reached an impasse. We still shared a daughter, so it was important for us to continue with a relationship of some sort, but we couldn’t get beyond the hurt. At first we were angry with each other, but gradually we both began to feel bad about all the pain we’d caused each other.

Finally one day, we were just sobbing in each other’s arms saying we were sorry. It makes me shake my head, remembering now… we were so young and just stupid. And remembering the pain and continuing to blame ourselves wasn’t making it go away. We were just wallowing in it.

So these words popped into my head: “Let’s just assume forgiveness from now on.” Meaning, from that point forward, when we remembered anything about what we’d done to each other, we’d assume the other had forgiven us.

Boy, did that feel good. To see each other as free from resentment allowed each of us to come to terms with what we’d done in our own ways. He’s now like a brother to me, although we don’t see each other much.

I think the spiritual basis of this is, injury is just one more lie connected with this mortal seeming. In spiritual fact, we can never be injured. No one can hurt us; no one wants to hurt us. We exist in the harmony of Spirit. This is the Truth of being.

So today I walk a fine line. Even while taking appropriate human action, I need to remember always that I’ve never been injured. I’ll let you know how it goes.


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