Recently I found myself emersed in an inner story I was telling about one of my relationships. Almost daily I was thinking about this person and judging my experience with him. I'd painted a grim picture of myself as the unloved, forgotten little girl. I was both angry and sad. I knew I needed a huge dose of forgiveness.
Communicating my Pain
After much thought, I gathered up the courage to write a letter. I put all the wrongs I thought I'd endured and the feelings I'd experienced as a result in writing. Once I dropped the letter in the mail there was no going back. The truth was out there. A few days later I received a call from the recipient. After a tearful conversation I learned that I had been wrong all along. Nothing had ever been done consciously. The other person never realized their actions were hurting me. I was and always had been loved and appreciated. Forgiveness washed over me in a powerful way. It was a one-time dose that I'm confident, in this situation, will last forever.
Forgiveness in One Shot
This is the way we have come to think forgiveness works. We accept someone's apology, experience emotional release and move on. Sometimes it works, but most of the time, it involves more than that.
A few years ago, the minister at my church led the congregation in a forgiveness meditation. She asked us to think of something or someone we needed to forgive. We were to invision someone coming along to take away the pain. In my mind's eye, my best friend (who passed away in 2009) arrived in a hot air balloon. She reached out and asked me to give her my burden. After I did, she floated away with it. I sobbed the whole time and when the meditation was over, I knew the burden was gone. I was free...or at least I thought I was.
I was indeed free for a while. But as time passed the issue returned to my thoughts. It is something I have had to forgive and release over and over. It is something that burrowed so deep in my heart that it comes up in pieces, again and again. And this is not the only forgiven issue that has returned for me.
As beautiful as it sounds to say we can forgive and forget, I believe our souls are more complex than that. Pain and trauma imprint themselves on our very being and we must be willing to allow the process of forgiveness to unfold. Sometimes it comes like a giant wave of love crashing over us and sometimes it's tiny shards of pain being chipped away and released. The important thing is that we stick with the process, even when it doesn't adhere to our ideal.
It came to me during meditation one day that forgiveness is a journey. It is something you choose over and over. You forgive those who hurt you (knowingly or not), you forgive events, you forgive the world, and most of all you forgive yourself. Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when he said to forgive seventy times seven. And once you start the journey, little by little the pieces of hurt will escape your heart allowing your soul the freedom to finally forget.
What about you? Have you undertaken the journey? Do you have a healing story of forgiveness?
Love and Light,
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