Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Forgiveness: An Ongoing Journey

By now, we all know the truth about forgiveness: it's not about condoning what somebody did-----it's about being willing to release the pain from your mind, heart, and body so that you can move on with your life.

Of course, you can forgive someone privately without ever letting them know, and you'll be doing yourself a huge favor. But go that extra mile and tell them about it, and you become a hero and an inspiration to everyone involved. If you're not quite there, don't worry. It's like Marianne Williamson once said, "Just because I forgive you doesn't mean we have to have lunch, yet." Forgiveness can be a process.

The spiritual writing, A Course in Miracles, teaches that there are two forces in the universe: love and fear. It goes on to say that the single most effective way to move from the state of fear (which includes blame, condemnation, anger, anxiety, victimization, powerlessness, etc.) to the state of love (peace, compassion, contentment, etc.) is through forgiveness. This brilliant, if lengthy, teaching boils down to the idea that whatever hurts you can be healed through forgiveness, especially forgiveness of self.

And so the new year brings with it feelings of new possibilities and fresh intentions. For me, it's a time to consider how I can cultivate more peace of mind, which inevitably leads to the issue of forgiveness. Does the fact that this theme keeps repeating itself mean I'm a slow learner? Very possibly, but it's also a reminder that the journey of forgiveness is rarely complete.

It's like laundry: no matter how hard you try to keep your clothes clean, they will get dirty and you will have to wash them. And before too long, you'll have to wash them again. Doing the laundry every week can be tiresome, but unless you want to wear soiled, offensively-scented clothes, you have to keep doing it. It's an ongoing task.

Let's face it, a lot happens in life that we have to forgive, which means that we need to keep plugging away at forgiveness. Sometimes we think we've forgiven somebody or ourselves, but we've only scratched the surface. It might takes years of conscious intention to truly forgive something and move on, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes.

Consider this time and effort an investment in your health and peace of mind, because that's what it is. And if there are brownie points in heaven, you'll be racking them up just by being willing to try to be willing to forgive! But if you feel like you're spinning your wheels, help is always available. You can read a good book on forgiveness, take a workshop, or go to therapy to help get unstuck.

Good luck, and remember that your intention to forgive, alone, is a beautiful thing.