|"To err is human, to forgive can take time."
Forgiveness Commentary: Given my history of abuse and my dedication towards a spiritual life, I knew those
unconscionable acts committed against me had to be forgiven in order for me to heal my soul. Even though I am
usually very forgiving, the past was going to take a considerable effort to forgive. Most of the time, when
forgiving another, we can take into account if a person is acting out of character, or if they are having a bad day,
or under stress, or if their offense was unintentional, and so on. After all, we are human beings and no one is
exempt from error. In these cases forgiveness can be given freely, especially when the person comes to you with a
contrite heart, admitting their offense, without excuses. But we often get stuck in unforgiveness when it comes to
those major abusers, who leave us feeling forever broken inside. However, the most difficult to forgive is
ourselves, because in a way we became our own abuser through self-loathing, which is often a by-product of
abuse. And in the case of chronic illness, we need to come to some sort of forgiveness for our bodies betraying us.
(I will address forgiveness for chronic illness in The Practice of Acceptance)
After years of searching for how to forgive my abusers, I first came to what forgiveness was NOT: It is not
forgiving and forgetting. The brain just works that way, unless you are repressing memories. It is NOT allowing,
minimizing, or excusing the behavior of one’s perpetrator. Forgiveness CANNOT be forced, because that is
actually a form of denial. And if your offender feels justified in their behavior, or if they are a constantly re-
offending, forgiveness does NOT mean there will be reconciliation. Even if you love someone, sometimes you have
to leave your toxic relationship and sever all ties, in order to forgive them and to save your own soul. In many
cases, only from a distance, can one begin the process of forgiving those who have wounded our souls.
So, I packed my stuff up, moved away, removing myself from all toxic relationships. (Please review the Practice
of Boundaries, and the upcoming Practice of Letting go, which are integral parts of The Practice of Forgiveness.)
The first time I felt close to forgiving my abusers was when I read about “harmlessness” in Marianne Williamson’
s book, “Return to Love.” I knew if I could at least say a prayer or a wish for my abusers to be “rendered
harmless,” that the world would be made better for others, for myself , and maybe bring some sort of healing into
the lives of my perpetrators.
After years of praying for my abusers’ “harmlessness,” I came across a book by Dr. Joan Borysenko, called
“Seventy Times Seven,” which really helped me understand the healing effects of unforgiveness on a physical
body and on a cosmic level as well. However, even with that knowledge, I was still holding some anger in reserve.
I suppose I felt the anger would help me not to get sucked back into the vacuum of their abuse, but it never
helped my woundedness.
In my process of forgiveness, I came upon a teaching by Pema Chodron called, “Awakening Compassion,” which
caused me to research the nature of abusers and victims. Once I understood the psychology of my perpetrators'
"woundedness," and learned the effects it had on their victims, I was able to forgive myself. And eventually, with
understanding came compassion. Even without any reconciliation, I was able to start feeling some level of
forgiveness for my abusers. However, sometimes I could still feel that old familiar sting. With practice, I was
able to give myself compassion for not being able to reach the fulfillment of forgiveness for my abusers , and I
created the ending prayer below. Also, with the help of Pema's teaching, I developed a mantra, "The Past is
over." This mantra helped me move through the pain whenever it came up for me again.
It takes a lot of practice to forgive our past abusers. However it is necessary for the sake of healing to release all
hatred, malice, and revenge from your heart, knowing that the pain will lessen, but may never completely go
away. Therefore, when you feel your heart flinching from some past memory, just remind yourself, “the past is
over” and let the pain float away, like clouds in the sky.
REPEAT ASPIRATION EVERY DAY FOR 7 DAYS
WEEK 3 ASPIRATION:
Today, I will begin my journey into forgiveness by sending out a wish that the abusers in my life are rendered
Forgiveness isn't easy, but it's a first step toward healing. ~Dr. Joan Borysenko
There is a hard law ... When an injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.
~ Alan Paton
Don't expect "perfection." Forgiveness usually isn't an all-or-nothing, once-and-forever phenomenon.
~ Myra Bailes
Loving your enemy doesn’t make you a doormat. You do not lie down and say, "Go ahead, step on me again...
~Rev. Mary Mannin Morrissey
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~Mahatma Gandhi
Forgiveness is not the misguided act of condoning irresponsible, hurtful behavior. Nor is it a superficial turning
of the other cheek that leaves us feeling victimized and martyred. ~Joan Borysenko
REST AND REVIEW
Now, without judgment review your week. This week I was able to wish for my abuser(s) harmlessness many
times. Now breathe in how it felt to wish something positive for your offenders, and send out a wish: “May
those who have been living in unforgiveness feel the freedom of starting to let go.” Now, look at your short-
falls. This week there were times I was unable to feel any positive wishes for my abusers. Breathe in your
painful emotion and breathe out the wish: “May all those who feel unforgiveness be spared from this feeling
and start letting go.” Feel free to use your own words in this practice.
REPEAT ASPIRATION EVERY DAY FOR 7 DAYS
WEEK 4 ASPIRATION:
Today, when the sting of past abuses arises within me, I will remind myself, “The past is over.”
[Forgiveness] is the finishing of old business that allows us to experience the present, free of contamination
from the past. ~Dr. Joan Borysenko
When you haven't forgiven those who've hurt you, you turn your back against your future. When you do
forgive, you start walking forward. ~ Tyler Perry
Forgiveness is the release of all hope for a better past ~Unknown
Hold to forgiveness, command what is right, and turn away from the ignorant. ~ Koran (Qu'uran, 7:199)
Forgiveness is the key that can unshackle us from a past that will not rest in the grave of things over and done
with ~Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. ~Paul Boese
REST AND REVIEW
Now, without judgment review your week. This week I was able to remind myself many times that the past is
over, and to release my pain. Now breathe in how good this felt, sending out a wish “May all those who are
moving away from past abuse, feel this feeling of letting of the pain.” Now, look at your short-falls. This week
there were times I was unable to get beyond the pain of my past. Breathe in your painful emotion and breathe
out the wish: “May all those who have been abused in the past be spared from feeling stuck there.” Feel free
to use your own words in this practice.
|My Beloved One;
I have worked very hard to forgive your child (name them) who has wounded my soul so deeply. I release them
from any indebtedness, which holds them in bondage to me. I am willing let go of my painful past, and place them
back into Your capable hands with the wish for their highest and greatest good, and ask that You complete
forgiveness inside me.
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