We all move through life without a perfect record. We make mistakes. We sometimes use our words and actions as weapons to hurt others. We often shatter moments and relationships with our recklessness for the feelings of others and the emotional impact. We also have our own lives bruised and sometimes damaged by the thoughtless refrains and deeds of others. No matter which side of this equation we happen to occupy, forgiveness is the healing balm to restoring love and harmony to ourselves and others. To quote English poet Alexander Pope, “To err is Human; to forgive is Divine.”
Forgiveness is easy to imagine, yet much harder to deliver. It is centered upon recognizing that we all have a critical human nature with varied life experiences and conditions. Wielding the wand of forgiveness is powerful, yet at the same time an act of grace and humility. Most of all forgiveness allows us to open a door to freedom and realize that the prisoner that we have set free is our self.
Of all of our emotional, psychological and human actions, forgiveness is the most difficult to offer to others. To understand the dynamic power of forgiveness is to also comprehend the paralyzing power that our anger and hurt have in holding us captive in our past…our mistakes…our poor judgments…our humanness. Often times, we carry around the baggage of anger and hate while those upon whom our ill will is centered are oblivious to our emotional distress. Pent up anger and hurt can fester inside us and render us an emotional hot mess.
What’s done is done and what’s said is said. The present immediately becomes the past. Mending relationships or simply finding our way through an emotional maze can only begin with the first thoughts and actions of forgiveness. It is only by finding peace with ourselves and others that we administer the antidote to the poison of anger, hurt, and fear that we simply can’t avoid at some point in our lives. The offering of forgiveness does not mean that you either approve of or agree with the words or actions of those who have injured you. Unconditional forgiveness flows from the heart and is centered in love. It can be offered without uttering a word.
As much as we would like sometimes, we can’t control the behavior of others, nor should we try. What we can control is our own mental and emotional response. We have the power over our own abilities and attitudes to release and let go of the emotional damage and baggage that may be associated with deeds perpetrated against us. We can free our mind, heart and spirit to move forward into the light and release the chains that bind our true happiness. We alone can decide the road we take and the baggage that we carry in our life’s journey.
The peace and harmony that we experience is the calm and serenity that we create for ourselves. Through forgiveness, we shift Divine energy from problematic symptoms to a state of free, creative, and healthy well-being. In the Bible book of Proverbs, Chapter 17, Verse 9, we are taught, “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.” The Universal flow of love requires that we practice forgiveness in the same manner that we might hope to be forgiven for our own transgressions.
Forgiveness should be unconditional…no strings attached…no quid pro quo…no expectations. That being said, it does not imply or require that we remain in unhealthy situations or relationships or that we have to, as the saying goes, “Forgive and Forget.” In forgiving we seek to move out of our shackles of anger, hate and fear as well as away from the innate anxiety of the situation. We use the situation as a life learning lesson and growth experience. Forgetting means that we choose not to revisit and open old wounds that have healed. Sometimes, those whom we forgive may no longer be in this human realm, but the cleansing and renewal of our own souls is dependent on our offering.
Forgiveness means that we can still love and bless those who have injured us in some manner, even if we choose to no longer embrace a close personal relationship in our journey forward.
It also means that we don’t use past transgressions forgiven as a weapon to wield in a future joust. I choose to use the phrase “Forgive and Release” as a better description of the action that has been most beneficial in my own life. Every experience is part of our education on life, love and relationships. It is often important to draw on the wisdom of prior experience to avoid an encore performance as our life progresses.
True, unconditional forgiveness comes more from a personal pivot in our thoughts and consciousness about the person and or the event that we seek to forgive. Forgiveness does not require spoken or written words, just a willingness to release the burden of the anger and hurt, while filling that space with love. The manner in which we process our forgiveness is both individual and extremely personal. There is no secret formula and every life experience and challenge is different. The most essential element in this exorcism is that we release the negative energy thoughts and feelings surrounding the person or events. In Matthew, Jesus tells us “It is in forgiving others that you too are forgiven.”
Forgiveness requires that we process our feelings and move towards the light and love of God daily. This is a learned experience and may require us to thwart the feelings of anger and hate many times each day at the onset. We are seeking a true release of these negative energy triggers and it will take time and consistent attention to move past these in many cases. The more we consciously forgive, the lighter our burden becomes. Remember that if we are not willing to find the love, peace and harmony in forgiving others, how can we then reasonably expect to be forgiven when we yearn for it in our own lives? To grant forgiveness at any level or station in life is to exhibit the depth of our love for ourselves and all of humanity. Our hearts and souls can only be truly free when we replace anger, hate and contempt, with the loving consciousness of compassion and forgiveness.
Fred’s latest book is The Divine Order of Our Random Life: A Collection of Teachable Moments and Human Observation. He is also the author of The Fork in the Road Leads Home: Reflections From My Life's Journeys...A Collection of Essays and The Essential Elements of Successful Coaching