It seems we never outgrow our need to forgive and be forgiven. Just the other day JoAnn and I ran into a serious misunderstanding. We had asked a new handyman to come and look at some problem areas in the house. I thought things went rather well actually (I can be a bit dumb sometimes).
But as time went on it became apparent that not only did the event stress JoAnn much more than I realized, but also she felt strongly that she hadn’t been given enough space to contribute her own thoughts to the process. The way she likes to handle difficult feelings is to go to her room and be quiet for a bit while she sorts things out in her mind.
So she did this. But meanwhile, I felt a wall coming down between us and yet I couldn’t figure out why. I went out for awhile and spent a not particularly enjoyable time at the coffee shop and the library. When I came home there was no sign of JoAnn, so I thought, “I’ll just sit in my chair, there’s not any harm in that.”
Soon JoAnn came in and sat with me and she was a bit clearer in herself what had been going on in her. And though it was uncomfortable, we got to talking, and it wasn’t too long before there was a chink in the wall that had developed between us. The chink got bigger, and soon we realized together what had been going on in each of us and were able to forgive each other and let the past go.
3 dimensions of forgiveness
Continuing this theme I’m happy to share a guest post by Vlad Rapoport, of Simpler Life Today, entitled “3 dimensions of forgiveness.”
I learned about forgiveness from my mother, who was just a little girl of 6 at the start of World War II. Together with her parents she lived in the city of Leningrad, USSR, which became one of the prime targets during the German invasion.
The German military enveloped the outskirts of Leningrad and staged a siege. This siege lasted for 900 days. The Germans made sure that no one and nothing came in or out of Leningrad, and in addition, the city was subjected to bombings around the clock.
The food and other provision quickly ran out and the city was left to survive on its own. The population -- including people’s pets and even the city pigeons (used for food) -- was cut dramatically. My grandfather was one of the victims of the siege. The atrocities that my mother witnessed at six years of age are more than I could ever imagine.
My mother made a conscious decision to forgive
Many years have gone by, and much of the horror has been forgotten. Except for the occasional nightmare and a distant memory. Early in her life, my mother had to make a conscious decision to forgive. She understood that unless she put the past behind her, she would not be able to move forward. And forgive she did. It was not easy and it took time. It took soul searching to let go of her anger and come to peace with the past.
I am proud to have witnessed her rise above the hate. I know that it must have taken a lot of courage and determination. I am very glad that she chose not to hang on to her anger. She is a great inspiration to me.
Having suffered, it is hard to let go of pain and to forgive. And yet, deep down, we know that the only way to liberate ourselves from the pain is through forgiveness. It’s only through forgiveness that we can find the lasting peace and harmony that we are seeking.
Lessons in forgiveness I have learned from my mother:
1. Forgiving personally
Personal forgiveness is about making amends to those who are involved in our personal life, our family, friends, and coworkers. This forgiveness rebuilds our relationships and improves our friendships. It brings a much needed emotional release and peace into our hearts.
As you make a personal inventory, you may find that there are people in your life who deserve to be forgiven. We can hold on to grudges for long periods of time, and lose track of our objectives. Personal forgiveness, of course, can include forgiving yourself.
2. Forgiving Spiritually
If you believe that you are loved by God, you must love and forgive in return. It is not possible to accept the forgiveness of God while harboring hatred and discontent toward other people. Living in forgiveness will liberate us and bring peace to our lives. As we open up our hearts and choose to offer love in place of hatred, forgiveness takes the place of anger.
3. Forgiving Socially
This forgiveness is world-wide. It includes offering forgiveness to those who we cannot see. Forgiving other nations, forgiving those people and their actions who are far away from our homes. Hatred breeds more hatred and not until we put an end to hatred and revenge, will this world know true peace. Leaders speak of peace, while wielding swords. We may not be able to change the world on a global scale by ourselves, but we have a choice to make a difference in our own backyard.
It is wise to remember that by offering forgiveness to others, we are actually healing ourselves. Our forgiveness can be expressed internally but has real and lasting consequences to our health and our lives. By releasing the negative emotions of anger and hatred, we open our hearts to love and compassion. These qualities are indeed universal and life changing. So start today, by forgiving one deed, one action, one person. You will experience an emotional release. And you will not be alone.
Vlad Rapoport is a certified meditation instructor and a spiritual counselor. He helps people find their true meaning through a journey of self discovery. He encourages people to shed the non essential and experience a purpose filled life. Vlad writes on these subjects at Simpler Life Today.
What are your thoughts on this theme of forgiveness? Do you have any comments or suggestions you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.
Picture credit: juliejordanscott