Forgiveness Revisited

north shore Lake Superior

 Lake Superior

I am returning to the subject of forgiveness. I have been traveling for quite a few days through miles and miles of forests and lakes. There is nothing out there except forests, water and the Trans-Canada Highway. It gives a woman time to ponder.

There have been times in my life because of something I said or did that I have seen friendships fade away. Sometimes it feels OK and sometimes there is a bit more reckoning that I need to do. I wish forgiveness was an easy process but it always seems so complex. There are times that it is not anyone’s fault that friendships end. They just do. By acknowledging my role in the departure, I choose to not feel angry or hurt. Mostly I am learning not to blame myself and tell myself that I am a bad person. It has taken me over 60 years of my life to understand this and not hurt or feel guilty about it. Mostly I am finally learning to not blame myself for everything. Whew, it has been a long process and I certainly know the learning curve is not over yet.

Sometimes friends come into my life for a short period of time and then we part often with fondness. The end of the friendship is not often spoken of, we just head in different directions. If we see each other again, we greet each other, enjoy some time and then go on our way. Sometimes we never see each other again.

Here is one of the things I don’t understand about forgiveness. Why are some people able to forgive and others not? Why is it important to some and not to others? What is about this act that is so tough and yet can wield such powerful results? What role does religion play in this? I think about the Amish community in Pennsylvania who after a tragic incident at the school, the community went to the wife of the man who killed so many and forgave her and helped her and her children through a difficult time. That took my breath away and it made my heart open. I wonder if I could do this. Hopefully I will never have to know.

IMG_6034

How do I forgive myself? I don’t just look in the mirror and say I forgive you and it is done. I feel that the first step in forgiving myself and others is recognizing that we are all imperfect human beings. Not one of us is without flaws. Maybe then, the first step is to stop expecting so much of ourselves and others. When I can expect less of myself or others then maybe I can begin to forgive myself. I believe that forgiving oneself is where all forgiving starts.

For me, recognizing that I have flaws as well, gives me the freedom to begin to not always blame myself for everything. Part of forgiveness is to acknowledge that I have done everything possible and now I leave it in the universes hands. I am still responsible for cleaning up my act and making sure that I don’t do the same thing again. Maybe the next time I will step back and take more than a moment to assess before I act. Maybe not but I can only hope that would be so.

I find myself grieving for the loss of some friendships. I think grief is a part of letting go and forgiving. At the same time I have begun to feel whole and at peace with this strange thing called relationship. Relationships of any sort are hard. It doesn’t matter if it is a lover, a co-worker or someone you only meet a few times. Relationships are hard!! I can see me still trying to understand and get this point as I age.

I will continue to ponder on forgiveness for a long time to come. Today I am thankful for learning about forgiveness. Today I am grateful for friendships. Today I am grateful that I can still learn and grow and try not to be so hard on myself.

Today I would like to think and feel that I can forgive myself.

Forgiveness

IMG_4532I recently read an article published by the Mayo Clinic on forgiveness. I’ve been pondering this subject on my journey. I feel that forgiveness is one of the more difficult emotions that we as humans can work with.

We have all been hurt by someone in our life time, whether it is family, work or socially related. Sometimes the hurt is major and sometimes it is minor. Being hurt by another is wounding to each of us. The emotions that result may include anger and bitterness and a feeling of not being able to let this event pass.

As defined by the article in the Mayo Clinic, “Generally, forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, more positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you.”

Pain hurts. Emotional pain hurts, spiritual pain hurts, physical pain hurts. I wonder what are the benefits of holding on to all these hard emotions? I think that forgiving is also hard. I don’t believe you can just look at someone and say I forgive you. It takes time to work through all the emotions that are connected with one single act. lt would be so easy if we could just look at someone and forgive them and let it go. Ah, I wish it were so.

I have done one major, intentional act of forgiveness in my life. Intentional is the key word here. It was when I was practicing the “Rainbow Way Meditations”. With the help of the Medicine Men I was involved with, at the time, I acknowledged forgiveness to one person long since passed on. It was a very freeing moment for me and one I have never forgotten. My step felt light and my heart and mind felt right, I felt right with my world. It was a very freeing moment in time.

How do we learn to forgive? How do others learn to forgive? I really don’t know the answer to this question yet I do know that in the act of forgiveness, life becomes more positive and anger slips away.

Forgiving another person doesn’t mean you are best friends again, and yet, that may happen. Forgiveness has more to do with me than the person I am forgiving. Maybe my stress, anger and hurt will lessen and disappear. My life could be a bit brighter and lighter.

What if I am the one who needs to be forgiven? I believe that if I fess up and admit my wrong doing and apologize (sincerely) then I am well on the way to asking for forgiveness. Does the other person involved necessarily have to forgive me? Well no. I feel that after admitting to my mistake and doing what I can to rectify the situation I have done all I can and then it is my choice whether I hold onto these often sad and hurtful feelings or let it go. Letting go is frequently hard to do. Letting go of what I feel are negative feelings often frees me up so that my life will remain full and positive.

What if I need to forgive myself? Wow that is a loaded one. I am not sure of the answer to that. Maybe by admitting that I am human and stumbling is a part of growth, I can go easier on myself. I sometimes wonder if forgiving myself is not the hardest of this act to do. I have always felt that everything that goes wrong is my fault. I apologize more than any other human alive. Well maybe. I am practicing the art of self forgiveness and it is not easy. I catch myself when I apologize for something that is out of my realm of responsibility. Asking myself if this is something I need to forgive myself also guides me to a more healthy and rounded approach to my life.

I think the idea of letting go of suffering is good. Needing forgiveness or asking for forgiveness is one way to let go of suffering. Letting joy, peace, hope and gratitude into my life through the act of forgiving or asking for forgiveness helps suffering lessen or disappear.

Today I am heading for New Brunswick, Canada. I am off to explore new territories. I am not sure how often I will have access to the internet. I promise to blog when I can. My heart feels such joy in knowing that all of you are interested in following my Journeys of Thankfulness.

I am thankful for all my readers, known and unknown.

Cobscook Bay Maine

Cobscook Bay Maine