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Back in the 80’s, I was walking with a friend in New York City’s beautiful Central Park, and I was complaining for the millionth time about something, most likely it was my family. My friend had heard it many times before and he told me the obvious, “Honey, you just have to get over it.”
At the moment, he told me to, “get over it,” I had a strong desire to strangle him. I wanted to smack him senseless. After all, didn’t he realize that I would be over it if I could be over it? I had no idea HOW to get over it. That was the whole problem!
And that’s part of why teaching people how to forgive is a focus of my life’s work. If we don’t know HOW to forgive, it can feel overwhelming and completely impossible. We know we’ve got an issue to deal with, but if we don’t know how to forgive, it can seem like we just have to wait until, “time heals all wounds.”
Many people believe that time will heal all, but time is nothing. Metaphysical students know that time isn’t even “real.” Time has no volition of its own, and time has no power because it is literally no-thing. Time is an illusory construct to help us work with our mind during this human journey while we think we’re a body. Time has no healing capacity at all. Love is the ONLY healer because Love is our true nature, and when we accept and allow our true nature to prevail, then we’re healed of all sense of separation. Love heals and time does nothing.
After a perceived injury, we may come to a place of forgiveness and that is what makes time seem healing. We can become tired of holding the grudge and disinterested with the investment of our precious life force in negativity. If you’re waiting on time to heal, you’ll be investing in a fantasy. If you’re waiting on time to somehow magically make things better, then wait no more, because I actually know how to use time to the advantage in healing.
I’ve been teaching people how to forgive since 2000. I’ve learned that forgiveness is extremely misunderstood. I’ve met so many people who’ve told me, “I’ve forgiven this. I forgive and forgive and forgive, and yet, it still haunts me. It still bothers me and I can’t seem to let it go. What do I do?”
People struggle with unforgiveness, resentment, blame, and regret for decades without being able to let it go.
Unforgiveness is the most debilitating investment of our time, energy and attention that I know of. It can be an energy drain so consuming, it seems to lead some people to illness.
In order to understand what forgiveness is, first, we must understand what forgiveness isn’t.
Forgiveness isn’t saying “it’s okay.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean “I don’t care about it anymore.”
Forgiveness doesn’t mean “what happened doesn’t matter anymore.”
The things that have happened in our past that feel painful and seem like tremendous and painful betrayals are not okay. I’ve worked with many people who have been raped, beaten, robbed, slandered and suffered through great difficulties, none of which are “okay.”
We may always care about what happened, but we can shift the energies of it and, believe it or not, we can actually take the pain and hurt out of how we hold it now. The pain we felt in the past, can stay in the past. We don’t have to drag it with us anymore,
The intense and painful experiences we’ve had will always matter. They shape us in many ways. When we forgive, they can help us to become the very best versions of ourselves. Through these experiences of wounding we can learn humility and compassion – two essentials on a path of spiritual growth and happiness.
It is as sure that those who hold grievances will forget who they are, as it is certain that those who forgive will remember.
A Course in Miracles, from Workbook Lesson 68 Love holds no grievances.
So, when we say “I forgive, I forgive” again and again and our pain doesn’t lesson, and the past is still haunting us, what’s going on?
Why isn’t the forgiveness working?
Very often there are two reasons that saying “I forgive” isn’t working.
One, we don’t understand what forgiveness is. What we often mean by those words is “I’m done with thinking about this. I want to move on. I want to forget about it. I want to be free of the past.” Like a person caught in a whirlpool who is tired of fighting the current, we’d just like to reach the shore and rest.
Sometimes we’d like freedom for ourselves, but not for the ones we blame for wounding us. That’s not true forgiveness and here’s why: It’s because we’re one with each other. We’re all part of the Oneness. However you think of life, God, Spirit, The Great Mystery, we’re all part of each other.
Because we’re one with each other, we cannot choose freedom just for ourselves. It doesn’t work that way. In order to have freedom, we have to be willing to share it with everyone. To have love, we have to be willing to extend it to all. That’s how things work in this unified field of awareness.
True forgiveness is when we’re willing to stop judging the people and the situation.
True forgiveness is the release of the meaning we made of things.
If we say we’ve forgiven, but we cling to our judgments about what happened, then we haven’t actually forgiven. It’s not possible to forgive by simply saying, “I forgive.”
Since the wound in our heart is caused by our interpretation of the past, we can’t have a healing until we change that. We have to be willing to relinquish the meaning that we gave to the experience. Most especially we must release our judgments and our opinions of what occurred.
This is what very few people can see. It takes a great willingness to be able to see why forgiveness can be so difficult and why it sometimes feels like a boomerang we can’t get rid of.
I’ve witnessed amazing and miraculous healing of people’s lives and families, their bodies and more through this work of self-forgiveness. I’ve seen people release chronic depression, chronic pain and anxiety as a result of becoming very focused on doing this forgiveness.
It does take courage and willingness, and it brings truly miraculous benefits, so it’s worth mustering up the courage to finally let those things go rather than continue to let them drain the life out of our life. What I’ve witnessed through working with so many people on these resentments and regrets is, the hardest part is just mustering up the willingness to actually do the inner work to let it go.
Unfortunately, very few people teach a true forgiveness that works and I’m hoping to change that by training people how to lead my Forgive & Be Free workshop. I do sometimes offer it online, so you can look for that on my website, here.
And, because we’re one with each other, when we release the judgment against another, we are freeing ourselves. Our liberation is up to us.
One of the keys to understanding this is, in A Course in Miracles’“Responsibility for Sight,” where it says:
“This is the only thing that you need do for vision, happiness, release from pain and the complete escape from sin, all to be given you. Say only this, but mean it with no reservations, for here the power of salvation lies:
I am responsible for what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience,
and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
And everything that seems to happen to me I ask for,
and receive as I have asked.
Deceive yourself no longer that you are helpless in the face of what is done to you. Acknowledge but that you have been mistaken, and all effects of your mistakes will disappear.”
In each upsetting experience, there is something for us to learn that helps us grow and become a wiser, more compassionate person. If we think things shouldn’t have happened, then we don’t forgive, and we prevent ourselves from harvesting the learning encoded into our experiences. When we refuse to learn, we’re doomed to repeat the painful experiences until we become willing to release our judgments and can gain the learning.
Until we release our limited and painful perspective from the vantage point of believing in separation from Source, we cannot see in all directions of time and space, and have the view and vision of the Higher Holy Spirit Self. Until we can see with the vision of the Higher Holy Spirit Self we don’t know what anything is for. Isn’t it just arrogance to think that we do know when, so clearly, we do not?
As long as we are deluded into thinking we know what things are for, and who is bad and who is good, who is right and who is wrong, we are not interested in the Truth that sets us free. When we need to be right about our interpretations, then we are doomed to keep repeating the same errors again and again.
It’s so much easier to say, “I don’t know what anything is for.” It’s for my learning, and that’s what I’m interested in. The Holy Spirit will guide me and direct me, and in the meantime, I can simply be grateful for my willingness to be free.
We’ve all experienced this kind of “Groundhog Day” of repeating the past mistakes and it’s deeply painful. Ultimately, we will each release all judgment and remember to laugh. Why wait to forgive? Heaven is at hand. Let’s start now, knowing that all boats rise on this tide of Love.
If you are interested in learning more about forgiveness, I invite you to join the Presenter Series where I just finished an entire month on forgiveness.
Jennifer Hadley, founder of the Power of Love Ministry, is a spiritual writer, speaker, teacher, minister and counselor. Jennifer offers daily inspiration and prayer, as well as workshops, classes and professional training programs for spiritual students and professionals. She is the host of A Course in Miracles weekly radio show, #1 on the Unity online radio network available wherever you find your podcasts. Jennifer writes daily inspiration in the form of her Daily Shot of Spiritual Espresso blog. She has a library of videos at her YouTube channel. More info: http://www.jenniferhadley.com
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