Updated: Oct 6, 2022
This last month has been profound! The deep dive into forgiveness over the weeks has been both deep and wide, liberating and humbling, difficult and healing.
In every class, I’ve been touched by so much wisdom and our universally sincere intention to cultivate a forgiving heart. AND YET, for many complicated reasons, the juxtaposition of not wanting to forgive. Holding both of these truths at the same time is a good, honest place to start.
I’m still not entirely clear on what allows us to forgive. The harm the actions of others has wrought in our lives and the lives of so many is real. Harm is harm. Forgiveness doesn’t minimise harm, nor does it exonerate the perpetrators. But maybe it can free us. Free us from carrying someone else’s burden - someone else’s pain, fear, confusion and shame. That is for them to carry alone. And when it comes, when forgiveness shows up, it feels free and unbidden and like the universe is all up in our crap and it brings us back to life. Yes, forgiveness can feel impossible, and also like the most important thing there is.
Like many of us, I can so easily get caught up in stories of blame and judgement – be it with myself or others - as a way of armouring around my heart. It’s a sweet, well intended but mostly unhelpful and unconscious attempt to avoid touching into something more tender - the disappointment, sadness or hurt that lies beneath. This is how we stay stuck.
What I know for sure is, each of us - no matter how self-aware, kind, or diligent - will at one time or another, act out of our own pain, ignorance, fear and confusion. We all hurt each other through our unconscious acts. Alas it seems to go with the territory of being human (sigh).
And although we don’t mean to, the pain caused is real. The hurt and the disappointment is real. Understanding the difference between intent and impact is essential for growth.
There have been many (many!) times when I’ve been unskillful and unwise, where I’ve lacked the emotional capacity or maturity to do better, and I’ve caused harm. Down to my bones, I deeply regret this and so wish I could simply etch-a-sketch it away and start again. But I can’t. It sucks (speaking truth to reality!) And is something I'm still learning to metabolise.
Maybe this is true for you too.
Even acknowledging this can help us to see and accept our humanness with more accuracy, humility and compassion. The beauty is, the more I can accept and forgive my own unconscious life, (past and present), the greater my compassion for seeing the humanness of others. It’s not so personal.
My hope is we can allow ourselves and each other to be imperfect and make mistakes - to be learners, still learning life’s lessons. That we don't 'calcify' ourselves and each other by our worst mistakes and mis-steps, but rather forgive and set ourselves and each other free. I here by declare we all have full permission to always be in process.
Cultivating a forgiving heart is a choice and a practice. And in my experience, it seems to be cyclical rather than linear, so it may take a few rounds (or a lifetime!) I believe the work is worth it. Hoping you do too, because you deserve to be free - you really do.
Go gently with kindness and patience. I'm right there with you, cheering you on (sometimes with my face in the earth) 💛