We achieve inner health only through forgiveness–the forgiveness not only of others but also of ourselves. ~Joshua Loth Liebman
Are you ready to forgive?
It’s time. To let go. To forgive.
Forgiveness it a door to grace. It bestows a blessing on you and everything that comes after. Anger, resentment, self-righteous indignation can fire the imagination, can produce results. But. As feelings they tether us to the karma of the action we want to avenge. And this is sour and unfulfilling.
Forgiveness is not saying: “What you did was okay.” It is saying: “I am okay. I choose to move on.” It is not easy in my experience. It is a journey. I am still on it.
We all have that person or situation that sticks with us. That we just can’t get past. When my Dad remarried after my Mother’s death, he virtually disappeared from our lives. He was happy again and he just didn’t have room for all of the visits, for family details. He didn’t have much time to spend with my son anymore. My Mom’s absence was already a gaping hole in our lives. I was mad. I was sad. Then I was mad all over again. He didn’t mean any harm. He was oblivious. And then defensive. Didn’t he deserve to be happy after all?
Enter the Buddhist Prayer of Forgiveness
~composer Unknown, from Sharon Salzberg
If I have hurt or harmed anyone in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, I ask their forgiveness.
If anyone has hurt or harmed me in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive them.
And if there is a situation I am not yet ready to forgive, I forgive myself for that.
For all the ways I have hurt or harmed myself, knowingly or unknowingly, I forgive myself.
You don’t have to be Buddhist. You just have to be tired of feeling rotten because of what someone else did or didn’t do. This is a process. Patience is required. You recite the words. You sit with what they mean. You feel the emotions that rise up without judgment. You feel them some more. And then something strange happens. And you are left with lightness.
When I saw my father recently, something had shifted. I felt different. It had been many months. But I wasn’t stuck in the past and my mind wasn’t stuck on how things should be. We had a great visit. And then he and my son spent the day on the beach together, just laughing and playing, like old friends.
And I realized that what had changed was me. I had forgiven my dad, for falling short in a complicated situation, and this had a ripple effect. In the process, I had also forgiven the most important person.
Because forgiveness is a door to grace. What is on the other side is you.