May 6, 2016
On any given day, we experience minor and sometimes major negative events that linger in our subconscious for moments or even decades. Many are dismissed as harmless or accidental, and sometimes you’re simply in the wrong place at the wrong time (like when you just happen to be driving behind someone who decides to clean his windshield while in the fast lane and sprays your freshly washed car with stray fluid). Something as small as this seems incidental and not worth carrying around, but maybe it’s the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back when coupled with deeper disappointments or frustrations.
If you’re like most people, the concept of forgiveness is practically a virtue – something you do because it’s “the right thing” or what you’ve been “taught” to do. Forgiveness comes easy sometimes, but there may be things you’ve carried internally for so long that the very thought of forgiveness seems impossible. Perhaps, you even feel that by forgiving someone you’re actually letting him or her get away with something without being held accountable.
Is forgiveness a “get out jail free card?” Why would you choose to forgive someone who hurt you deeply, either emotionally or physically? Is there really anything to be gained by letting go of those injurious memories?
After pondering all of those questions, I offer you one more: What will you lose if you practice forgiveness? A lot, actually, but not in the way you might think. One of the greatest things you can do for yourself – and for a myriad of others who don’t yet know how your rejuvenated spirit will impact them and the energy around them – is to practice forgiveness as a form of self-care and self-love. The greatest gift of forgiveness is that we free ourselves from allowing the experience to adversely affect our lives.
Because we are free to make decisions, choose our own path, and decide how to live our lives, making forgiveness a priority is a way to shake off the past, close the door on old hurts, and release the hold these negatives had on us. In the simplest terms, until we forgive in our heart, that person, event, or circumstance will haunt us again and again. And, if we say, “I just can’t forgive,” then what we are really saying is, “I prefer to live with my emotional poison, with my pride and my anger. I prefer not to move from this place of suffering.” And I doubt that’s a choice anyone really wants to make.
“We are kept from the experience of Spirit because our inner world is cluttered with past traumas… As we begin to clear away this clutter, the energy of divine light and love begins to flow through our beings.”
~ Father Thomas Keating