“…to forgive, Divine.” Alexander Pope
In this vast chaos we call ‘life’ we walk our unique path, meeting others along the way. Some are friends, lovers, family who lift us up and support our journeys. These people are easy to recognize and we happily welcome them and embrace them to our hearts.
Some of our fellow travelers are not so easy to embrace. Some we meet along the path seem to be there for the sole purpose of tripping us, setting up road blocks or simply to taunt our progress. They always seem to know every button we have and just push, push, push. We get annoyed. Sometimes we seethe. We even grow hot under the collar while wondering why this a-hole won’t just leave us alone.
Then there are times that we come across a person who does more than simply annoy us. Sometimes we meet another who has come into our lives like a tornado, wreaking havoc along their path, harming, nearly destroying us. They bring us devastation that we wonder if we can survive.
And sadly, at times we are that tornado.
As human people we make mistakes. We hurt others and are hurt by others. When the bad stuff happens and the brown things hit the fan it can be difficult not to take the anger, resentment, and even hatred we feel for the one we know is WRONG IN EVERY WAY and let it live like a ball of fire inside our guts, smoldering away. Some wise person somewhere once said that holding onto resentment and anger is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. But how do we let it go? How do we forgive when somebody has done something to us that seems unforgivable?
Forgiveness is a hot topic these days. All over the interweb we read about how important it is to our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health to forgive. The path to spiritual awakening must begin with forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key that opens the door to emotional healing. You’ve seen the Huff posts. You know what I’m talking about.
So, what? Somebody kills my dog, runs over my grandma with their car, or does some horrible, destructive thing that ruins my life and I am supposed to just forgive them?
Well, in short, yes. BUT who am I, to forgive? By saying that I forgive someone, am I not still holding them at fault? By believing they need forgiveness am I really saying that I still judge them?
To truly forgive it seems I must release all judgment. To be able to look on the person who did the terrible THING to me and stopping judging them is the first important step. The second is to be able to feel thankful for the lessons they have brought to me. With these two steps I am released from the bitter poison of resentment.
Ram Dass says “I see my life as an unfolding set of opportunities to awaken.” Each time I encounter something that makes me feel anger, it is my opportunity to practice compassion. Each time I am led to feel resentment, or hurt, or humiliation, I am given the opportunities to explore the parts of myself that are still controlled by fear, not love. To be led to a place where all of my hidden pockets of judgment and fear reside is to be able to shine the light on them and make them vanish. Shadows cannot survive in the light.
We come together to this playground called life with the plan to rub up against each other and smooth the edges. We are, after all, just walking each other home. When we forgive, we release judgment. We cannot know what compels another on their journey, but we can thank them for helping us to grow by bringing their hard lessons.
When I ask to be forgiven, I am really saying “please don’t judge me”. When I am able to turn this most important lesson toward my self then I am truly able to free myself from my own harsh judgments. I really do tend to be my biggest critic. In being gentle and compassionate I understand that everyone (including me) is doing the best that they can with the tools they have been given. Releasing all judgment is to truly be free.
So in my act of forgiving, I let go of judgment. I embrace the lesson and am grateful for those who have tripped me, blocked my path and hurt me along the way. By looking at them with tender eyes, I am finally able to see them for what they truly are: the source of my greatest awakening.