What do we talk about when we talk about forgiveness? We talk about granting love and freedom for self and other. We fuse the dance of paradox. We dance what we thought was the impossible dance.
I know what it feels like to need to be forgiven I have sat in the dark feeling cut off from someone I love because in some way I have offended or hurt them. I know what it is like to need the compassion of forgiveness. I have also experienced the relief and freedom that being forgiven brings. There is a sense of a new beginning, a fresh start filled but unencumbered by my past failures.
I am looking forward to the field of forgiveness. I know next to nothing about forgiveness; I do not always know how to forgive. In my experience forgiveness is a word that often used without knowing what it’s full meaning is.
It is hard to think that someone has hurt me and I must forgive. How is that possible? Even though I know what it feels like to be forgiven.
I know that when I cannot forgive bitterness and toxicity grow in my heart. Letting go of the suffering seems impossible.
When someone offends me or harms me how do I forgive?
How can I pardon someone who has broken my heart? Betrayed my trust, or harmed my wellbeing?
When I choose not to forgive, who is really being punished?
Who suffers more, the offender or me?
What I don’t realize is that by not forgiving I entwine myself with the one who has offended me. When I throw away my pride and forgive I am in fact releasing the pain and the person who has hurt me.
When I cannot forgive I give birth to a new story. I weave and nurture the story of how I was offended and how terrible the other is. My guts turn sour and my head throbs at the thought of what that person has done to offend me. I continue living the story. I get to keep my judgments. I continue reliving the pain that was caused. Over time I appear to heal though something in me does not want to let the pain go. I have not forgiven. I still keep part of the wound open like a small door letting in oxygen to fuel a burning ember. A door big enough to feed my pain, a pain that I did not know that I have chosen to hang on to, it can be ignited at any moment. Not realizing it I keep the wound open as a reminder to myself to justify my bad feelings toward another. I have created a new habit.
Even worse I continue to fill myself with toxicity of hatred and bitterness. Do I want to savor this toxicity? Do I want to see red every time I think of that person? In this field of unknowing I choose to take the first step toward forgiveness.
Forgiveness is a physical act. It takes place in the heart, it takes a summing of courage to throw away the story we have become used to holding on to. When I do not let go and forgive I hold onto a story and the story becomes a static place where real growth does not take place.
First I forgive myself for my hesitation or even my refusal to forgive the other.
I pardon myself so that I may be free without my own punishment.
The taste of forgiveness is sweet, it cleanses and it calms.
The field has been cleared.
Now I move toward the other. I visualize the human standing before me and know that whether they know it or not they carry pain. It is not always on the surface and most often their pain swims somewhere in their stream. I watch that person walk away what they have done wrong walks away with them. It is no longer mine.
I hold the key that opens the gate to release me from the toxic grip of not forgiving.
Through no act of bravery or obligation I forgive. This is not food for ego. I forgive because I love myself and because I want to be free.
The field has been accessed.
The field is filled with all kinds of beautiful flowers including; the freedom to create better relationships, heightened spiritual and psychological contentment, less anxiety and stress.
I see that by forgiving myself and other I have really acknowledged my humanity, my frailty. I can see the buds of vulnerability. I can see what it looks like to fall down and hurt another and the healing caused by recognizing that hurt. Most importantly I see the golden bloom of release and the delight and aroma of freedom that comes along with the release.
I have been forgiven and I can continue learning to forgive.
I can practice at every opportunity, wherever life takes me.
I can create a habit of practicing forgiveness.
Even though I may hold hands with the one who caused the pain or never see one another again the field has been cleared. Freedom has been invited; peace has been deposited into the universe.
Forgiveness begins with the I.
What are your experiences with forgiveness? I am interested in your thoughts.
Theresa Norris, CPCC www.norriscoaching.com
Photo by Theresa Norris