Today’s blog continues the discussion on the spiritual practice of Forgiveness. Specifically, in order to experience the grace of forgiveness, we have to be willing to go into the pain. No wonder Forgiveness is so dang hard!
The Road to Forgiveness
Roughly 6 weeks ago, thanks to the urging of several spiritual teachers, I embarked upon a journey with Forgiveness as its intention. It started with one individual, then unfolded to include others who I had perceived to have hurt me in some way. Interestingly, I have learned many unexpected lessons along the way. I have been reminded that forgiveness is a process and that the actual moment of release is a moment of grace and comes unbidden and is given without regard to merit (in other words, it doesn’t come because I finally said enough “Hail Mary’s or proclaimed enough Mea Culpas). I learned (actually, remembered) specific spiritual practices that I have found to be helpful along the way. And I discovered the miracles that begin to unfold when we give our intention and attention to the process of forgiveness. I also discovered that what is said of physical fitness seems also to be true in forgiveness: No Pain, No Gain.
NO PAIN NO GAIN
Instictually, we are avoiders of pain. If something hurts, we don’t do it again. Avoidance of pain is an important attitude if we are to survive as a species. Avoidance of pain, however, is not helpful if we are going to experience the depths of forgiveness. If we really want to forgive others and ourselves and if we want to be open to forgiveness by others, we have to be willing to go into our pain. This does not mean that we intentionally subject ourselves to someone else’s abuse, deceit or neglect, but it does mean that we have to be willing to recall those past moments of hurt, betrayal and loss and to actually go into those perceived negative feelings so that they can be transformed and released and so those constricted areas within our emotional bodies can be open to receiving love where the negative feelings used to be. It goes something like this:
- We hold an intention in our mind to forgive X person for some perceived hurt.
- We allow ourselves to be open to remembering that hurt.
- We allow ourselves to feel the emotions related to that hurt (anger, betrayal, hatred, thoughts of revenge)
- Then we allow ourselves to feel SADNESS that is lying underneath these other emotions.
- Then we grieve…..cry, moan, wail, feel the sadness.
- Then, let it go.
As we allow ourselves to be present to the pain of the loss….the sadness of the hurt, and when we grieve this sadness, we are freed. The part of the hurt that caused us sadness is released, and forgiveness and love can enter in to that space vacated by the loss.
Afraid of the Pain
It is ultimately the fear of these raw emotions….sadness, anger, depression, that stops our forgiveness process. We push them aside, ignoring them, resisting them and in doing so, forgiveness is stalled and love is thwarted. So if we really want to achieve forgiveness in our lives and thereby open more fully to love, we have to be courageous enough to be present to the pain. And when we do so, our journey toward forgiveness and the fulfillment of love is accelerated and the greatest miracles begin to happen. And who knows, we might even discover that we can love not only our enemies, but that we can love ourselves as well.
Where do you want to invite forgiveness into your life?
How does the fear of pain thwart your ability to be open to forgiveness?
What are the pains that are currently calling you to be present to them?
Authentic Freedom Ministries