Life Lessons Learned Through Forgiveness
“Let’s say Jennifer was unkind to you. She betrayed a confidence or lied about you to a coworker, though now she has apologised. You might not have been forgiving towards her, though that certainly would have been the highest expression of your essential self. You might have understood the need for forgiveness, perhaps, but it was still too much of a stretch for you emotionally. The fact that you might have forgiven her – that in an enlightened state you would have forgiven her – means that the choice for forgiveness will be waiting for you until you’re ready. You will now meet Jennifer, or someone just like her, no matter where you go. For forgiving the particular issue she represents in your life is the lesson your soul needs to learn. That issue will be scripted into the curriculum of your life’s journey. –Marianne Williamson – Everyday Grace.
I’ve been doing a bit of reading about Forgiveness lately. The above quote is something that really resonated with me. Particularly the part about the life lesson, that it’s not really about the person who the message came through.
I don’t walk around consciously unforgiving of people, but recognising I have health issues I am having to address, and knowing that lack of forgiveness can often be a huge contributing factor underlying health issues, I did a bit of pondering. And yes, I feel resentful towards a few people. It surely must be clogging up my system.
I wanted to share a rich conversation I had with my friend Diane Counsell, she said “The bottom line is it’s all about forgiveness. We all mess up, our parents do, their parents, and so do we, and so do our kids, and we hurt each other. What has to happen to move forward is to forgive ourselves for being human, for messing up, for letting people do stuff that wasn’t right to us, for not knowing it wasn’t right at the time, or not listening to ourselves when we did know and staying because we were scared to do anything else, or scared of the alternative.
We need to forgive ourselves for being ignorant and forgive everybody else for the same things. I don’t think anybody wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Who can I destroy this morning?”.”
I then replied.
“So how do I forgive my ex for not being there for our children, for leaving me to do it alone, how do I say that it was just being human that he wasn’t able to be there, and the immense pain that caused along the way. How do I forgive the hurt at watching my sons want so desperately to have his approval and attention and support but too scared to get hurt again and be told no, as if they are being punished?”
“I think it’s not about “forgiving” in the sense that says, ahh… it’s alright, you were messed up. Its about personally letting go, choosing, you impacted on me in the past and I didn’t know how to deal with you so stayed when I shouldn’t and now that I’m free, you don’t belong in my life any more, you have no impact and I let you go. For me forgiveness doesn’t take away anybody’s bad behaviour. My definition of forgiveness is to let go. That means only take responsibility for my part. My part might be, I choose to bear a grudge, blame… etc. It means not giving that person any more power by their bad behaviours over my life. “
“I believe that we’re all part of the one, that’s a constant with me. When someone does something bad, I say to myself, I’m really glad they’re doing that bit and not me, that I don’t have to do it. My kids relationships with their father belongs to them, all kinds of karma possibly involved, past lives. etc. which I don’t understand and don’t have to figure out. All I have to do is work on my own relationship with my own life and choose to keep on letting go.”
So I got to thinking, other than the obvious, that I want the best for my children, why is this resentment something I can’t let go of, afterall, my children are adults now, and I’m not raising them anymore? I asked myself, as Diane suggested, what is the bit that my ex is doing so I don’t have to do it? And I got that he played “the abandoner”. I have a lot of abandonment issues in my life, so of course I must have some kind of introjected bit that is “the abandoner”. That’s why I react so strongly to any kind of abandonment. This was new food for thought, to find ways in which I am abandoning myself, so then the issue is worked on and the person I can’t forgive can be let go of.
As Marianne Williamson said, it’s not the person that is the issue, it’s the life lesson that will keep coming along to be healed.
So what is the bit that someone else is playing out in your life so that you don’t have to do it?