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We never outgrow our need to forgive

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.

Conclusion

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

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

nel October 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I believe forgiveness is essential but wonder if you need to actually state this empahtically? For eight years a family (in-law) member has disrupted all joyous occasions and caused ructions to the point where, for example, myself and my children are unable to see or have contact with my brother’s children or my brother (whom we all love dearly). I try to add this woman to my prayers and meditations, hoping forgiveness will help heal this rift, but we are forbidden to have any real contact. I wonder if sending my happy thoughts is enough – it has made no practical difference over the years.

Reply

Vlad | Simpler Life Today October 3, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hi Nel,
You bring up an important point. The essential part to remember however is that while we can not change others, the forgiveness plays a big role in heling ourselves. Forgiving someone, does not necessarily mean that we have to love or even like them. But through forgiveness, we help ourselves to move on.
Your family member obviously has some issues. You may feel that their behavior is completely inappropriate. But, I suspect that this person is experiencing pain of their own in order to behave this way.

Be well, Vlad
Vlad | Simpler Life Today recently posted..What is Zen Meditation, Zen Meditation Technique, and What Supplies Do I Need?

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Daniel M. Wood October 4, 2011 at 12:21 am

About a year ago I made the decision to forgive everyone who ever wronged me.
For my own sake, not for theirs. I actually never told them that I forgave them, but in my heart I have.

The point is that once you have forgiven everyone who ever wronged you, you feel much better.

Trying to understand others makes a huge difference.
Daniel M. Wood recently posted..30 Pick Me Up Quotes for a Bad Day

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Vlad | Simpler Life Today October 4, 2011 at 11:05 am

Hi Daniel,
Thank you for your comment. I like what you said about understanding other people. This is very true. Often we may feel resentment and anger toward someone when we don’t understand their motivating factors. It helps to keep the communication lines open.

Many times, once we understand the other person, we find that it is much easier to forgive them. The bottom line is that we’re all not so different from one another. We all want to be loved, appreciated and understood!

Best to you, Vlad

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Sukey December 27, 2011 at 9:48 pm

You’ve got to be kidding me-it’s so trnaasperntly clear now!

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noch October 4, 2011 at 4:32 am

my shrink made an interesting comment related to this, he asked whether i was the type of person “to forgive and to forget”… we had a chat about this and he said, he personally prefers “forgive and remember”, because after forgiving, there’s a lesson to be learnt, and in some instances, if we can remember it, and not feel those negative emotions once associated with it, then we know we have really moved on, and forgiven ourselves and others
🙂
noch recently posted..if she had my opportunities

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Christopher Foster October 4, 2011 at 9:56 am

Hi Noch, I just want to thank you for your comment here. JoAnn and I were talking about your comment and saying to each other that your shrink made a very good point. Truly there often is a very important and useful lesson to be learned — and remembered — from an uncomfortable experience.

Above all, I find what is critical in my own life is not holding on to a grudge. Here I think love is the key. Love is the core aspect of our true character and it just isn’t in the nature of love to hold on to a grudge of any kind.

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Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition October 4, 2011 at 6:45 am

Vlad,
Great post. I think forgiveness is underrated as a technique for improving the quality of one’s life. It certainly frees us from dragging that huge ball of resentment, blame and anger with us wherever we go. Once freed of dragging these emotions from our past with us we are able to love more fully with our whole heart. Loving more makes life a joy.
Angela Artemis/Poweredbyintuition recently posted..How Does Vedic Astrology Differ From Western Astrology?

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Vlad | Simpler Life Today October 4, 2011 at 10:49 am

Hi Angela,
Glad you enjoyed the post. In my life, I’ve noticed that whenever I hit a wall, there is some resentment somewhere. Once I identify it and let go of that resentment, the issue often resolves itself.

Resentments can come in many different forms. They are not just reserved for other people. Some come from dissatisfaction and some may even be at ourselves. Understanding ourselves is the key!

Take care, Vlad

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nel October 4, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Thanks Vlad. I know you are right. I guess we just do the do-able and every bits helps.

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Phil D. Malmstrom October 5, 2011 at 9:08 am

Christopher and Vlad; A wonderful article on forgiveness to be sure.

Vlad;
Forgiveness is difficult… very difficult indeed. When we feel we’ve been wronged, those seeds of dissent can lie inside us for long periods of time, growing into weeds that choke out the vines of our spirit. Releasing ourselves from those negative emotions is a physically, emotionally and spiritually enlightening experience, and opens us to far greater communion with God’s voice in the process.

Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective with us.

Have a Blessed Day!
Phil D. Malmstrom recently posted..Like a Puzzle Piece

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Vlad | Simpler Life Today October 5, 2011 at 10:47 am

Hi Phil,
Thank you for your insightful comment. Forgiveness is an act of love and sacrifice. When Mahatma Gandhi was dying, he lifted up his hands from the bullet wound and offered a gesture of forgiveness to his assassin… Wow! Our forgiveness comes from realization that we are all children of God united in our brotherhood.

Be well, Vlad
Vlad | Simpler Life Today recently posted..What is Zen Meditation, Zen Meditation Technique, and What Supplies Do I Need?

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Michel Vaillancourt October 11, 2011 at 9:07 am

Dear Christofer
It’s always a pleasure to read your inspiring thoughts.
Thanks for your constant inspiration.
One with you
Michel

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Christopher Foster October 11, 2011 at 10:05 am

Michel, thank you so much. I really appreciate you taking the time to drop in and share your kind and encouraging message. One with you too and God bless.

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