Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Forgiveness: Inspired

After reading Paul Martin's blog Original Faith," I was spurred to some deeper thought about the nature of forgiveness and its place in my own life. As I read the input from several other bloggers who frequent Paul's site, I began to further solidify my own ideas about what it means to forgive someone. As a childhood Catholic, I distinctly remember the portion of "The Lord's Prayer" that reminds us to forgive those who have trespassed against us. On some level, the phrase, "I forgive you," has always felt a bit condescending to me. As if I have chosen the better road, the higher route, the more benevolent path and I am taking pity on the person who had the gall to 'trespass' against me. It has always bothered me. And I began to wonder why forgiving someone has historically been so difficult to do for so many.

Examining my recent past, I discovered that for me, forgiving has nothing to do with anyone but me. The reason I have found it so hard to forgive is because I am disregarding one of Don Miguel Ruiz's "Four Agreements"; don't take it personally. Regardless of the fact that certain acts performed by others have impacted me in significant, sometimes traumatic ways, I don't believe that I can honestly point to a one that was intentionally designed to harm me. Perhaps the doer was making a rash decision, a poor decision, a thoughtless decision. In many cases, there is no argument that they ought not to have done what they did. In all cases, it's not my judgement call to make.

Perhaps I deserved more consideration. Perhaps I deserved an apology. Neither of those things will retroactively 'fix' the difficulties I experienced as a result of an action someone else took. Hanging on to resentment or anger or emotional pain won't change anything, either. Forgiveness, for me, is the act of letting go of the notion that I was at the center of the act. Letting go of the idea that the motivation for another person's actions was solely to hurt me personally. Letting the negative energy flow from me and be replaced with compassion for that individual and the guilt they may feel or the hurt they were experiencing that led them to make such a choice is a more powerful healing tonic.

Forgiveness is for me. The peace I feel after acknowledging that it is possible to learn and grow and move forward is so much bigger than any anger or hurt I might have felt before. I am hopeful that my forgiveness might offer others some solace or comfort if they feel that they have harmed me in some way, but that is not my motivation. Forgiveness is about finding perspective and balance in my own heart.


Suzy said...

Eloquent post. Especially..

"Perhaps the doer was making a rash decision, a poor decision, a thoughtless decision. In many cases, there is no argument that they ought not to have done what they did. In all cases, it's not my judgement call to make."

You've nailed it for me-"not my judgement call to make."

Perfectly said.

Love to you.


paul maurice martin said...

Kario, thanks for the link and great post.

I especially like how you zone in on the tendency to suppose that those who harm us do so with that as their intention. Of course, that does happen sometimes - but for the most part, not. And that's helpful to realize. It just helped me.

Deb said...

So glad that you're finding this gem for yourself. A definition of forgiveness that helped me is that you release the other person from responsibility for your feelings and your subsequent choices. The freedom always comes in releasing -whatever it is we hang onto.

This is a wonder of insight, especially coming at the time of your life that it does.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

Well, my dear, dear, friend, you know I've been working on this hot topic myself. I "know" all about forgiveness, but practicing what I know is SO hard. There is a stubborn aspect of myself that still believes I am making the "trespass" OK, if I forgive, even though I don't truly believe this to be so.

What has helped me lately is this, "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." When I focus on this I can let go of intention behind the trespass, and concentrate on the fact that we're all a bunch of humans running into each other on the planet, all just doing the best we can with what we know at the time.

Cord cutting helps too, at least for me.

Love, love and more love.

Anonymous said...

What an excellen post. Wow! I have struggled with forgiveness for a long time. I think I finally figured out, and actually believe, that when I forgive, it has nothing to do with the other person, who hurt me. I am forgiving for myself, to let go of all that hurt and negativity that not forgiving does to me and my emotional well being. I can't control other people or undertand what their motives are, or why they act in a way they do. I can't control why they hurt me, if it is intentional or not. The best I can do is deal with the hurt/pain, and let it go. The only way for me to do that is to forgive. I may not ever have them in my life again, but like I said, forgiving is something I do for me, not them. Having them in my life again, taking that risk, is a whole other process!
Love you.

megan said...

Beautiful breakthrough! You have an awesome trip you (for next post). :)

Jerri said...

Even when you understand forgiveness as perspective and balance, it's a slippery beast.

This is a beautiful post, Kari. Peace to you. Deep, abiding peace.

Miss Devylish said...

I sometimes wonder if I don't forget the injury, do I really forgive it - because often I don't forget it. It's oddly clear.. every moment of it. But mostly I do the needed severing because in most cases, I do think the person has tried to hurt me - if it's a severe situation. Anything smaller can be forgiven more readily but it's the ones who hurt me callously, unnecessarily, and intentionally I have the harder time with. When I thought they were friends and they end up doing something awfully cruel I didn't think they were capable of. I think the anger of those things has left, but have I forgotten? No. Do I care anymore is sometimes what I ask myself and that answer is no as well.. so then I wonder if it even matters if I forgave them. Obviously, not the point here. But then, that's my struggle. :) Thanks for shedding a little more light on it sugar. Tho that particular link surprised me..He sort of reminds me of the guy who wrote 'Conversations With God'.. xo

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