“Forgiveness… undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God.” A Course in Miracles
How can I forgive? How can you? How do we ~ as spiritual beings having a human experience ~ see past the chaos and horror in this world? How do we begin to forgive the darkness, and have hope again?
Forgiveness is as necessary and intrinsic to healing from trauma as physical therapy is to healing an injury. It needs to be done daily, and in a manner that doesn’t hurt you, but stretches you. Forgiveness also doesn’t need to be rushed. When it is time, you feel it. And when you forgive, you will feel lighter.
Forgiveness is the skeleton key that unlocks the shackles of fear and rage we carry.
I have forgiven the person who raped me. I didn’t do it soon after, and I didn’t do it all at once. And I never forgave him to his face. That wasn’t necessary. He didn’t need my forgiveness. I needed to forgive him in order to move on with my life.
I went to a counselor soon after I was attacked, and she led me on a beautiful journey in my mind to a safe place, where I could confront my attacker and then offer forgiveness. This was horribly misguided as it had only been a few days since it happened. I was still in a state of shock, disbelief and confusion. It did nothing to help me feel better and start healing because it was too soon. I had to back up about a month later, dredge it all up again, and let the rage happen.
Then I could start healing and forgive.
Whatever trauma you’ve been through, understand that if you’ve been victimized in any way, you will have gurgling pots of rage to slog through. If you don’t spend some time there, it will show up on your doorstep wearing a very ugly mask when you least expect it. Don’t get stuck in the anger, but allow yourself to feel it fully so you can get past it.
Forgiveness is a process, as is all of healing. Do as much as you can, when you can. And know that is all you need to do. Forgiving isn’t easy. It takes courage and faith of a rare kind. And when you’re ready, Spirit will surround you, lift you up, and imbue you with everything you need.
Nothing is as inspiring to me as stories of great forgiveness. The woman who forgave the young man who murdered her son, and is now his advocate and mentor. The young woman who forgave her father for molesting her, seeing him for who he was and knowing that not forgiving would keep them both in chains. The people of the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston who spoke out about forgiving the shooter at their church so “hate won’t win.” Concentration camp survivor Eva Kor, who calls herself a “radical human being” has met with and forgiven former Nazis from Auschwitz. She stated, “It is an act of self-healing, self-liberation and self-empowerment.” Amen sister.
So how do we get to forgiveness? Not by yourself. Ask God for help. And ask again. And when you think you’re done, ask again. You’ll know when the wound is completely healed. And your immense bravery will astonish those who know you!
One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Twain. He said, “Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” This thought is so profound to me. Yes, we have been crushed, but in offering forgiveness, our essence remains and rises above – beautiful and victorious.
“…all forgiveness is a gift to yourself.” ~A Course in Miracles
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