By Rev. Lauri Boyd, Minister, Unity of Columbia, MO
“Forgiveness means feeling all your feelings for as long as they are present, and doing this without creating a story of martyrdom, victimhood, or self-righteousness. Just feel it directly without adding anything to it.”
Living Originally: Ten Spiritual Practices to Transform Your Life by Rev. Robert Brumet
Forgiveness is one of the most powerful spiritual practices in which we can engage. It is a cornerstone in many of the world’s great religions and philosophies. It was a deeply important practice to our teacher and wayshower, Jesus. The concept of forgiveness is mentioned over 50 times in the Christian testament. The author of the Gospel of Mark records that Jesus taught, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you.” (Mk 11:25-26 NRSV)
In other words, if Iwant release from anger and unforgiveness, Imust first make the choice to forgive. Consider that Jesus uses the term ‘Father’, not in a literal sense, but as a metaphor for the divine principle of wholeness, the mystical source of all that is. When I am holding onto unforgiveness, I cut myself off from experiencing that wholeness.
Forgiveness is both a choice and a process of healing.In order to forgive, I must make a choice to let go of blame and condemnation. I must choose to give up my stories about how wrong or bad someone has been. And I may have to make this choice multiple times. (Think ‘intention’, not ‘checklist’.)
As a process of healing, forgiveness is a way of moving through pain. If I am hurt physically or emotionally, I will feel pain. Sometimes this pain is so intense that I move into resistance. A common strategy to resist pain is to focus on the perceived cause of my pain. As long as I focus on the evil nature of the offender, I do not have to feel the full impact of my pain. But there is a price to pay for avoiding the pain. As long as I hold on to unforgiveness, my wounds go unhealed. The key to forgiveness is to focus on my own experience in the present moment – not on the past and not on the sins of another. As I face and feel my underlying pain, I create a space to know the truth. The truth is that there is a greater reality than my present-moment experience, and that reality is centered in an awareness of God.
Have you had an experience of unlimited forgiveness that was transformative for you?