I’ve never been comfortable with the term “forgiveness”. And that’s because it’s generally spoken of casually, rather than given its rightful place as a deeply spiritual and transcendent act. Spiritual teachers often dish out the advice, “you must forgive…” as though it is an act of the will. But is forgiveness an act of the will? Can you will yourself to forgive someone who’s wronged you? Does that really work when it comes to healing the wounds in our heart? It’s never worked for me, I can tell you that!
I had a realization about forgiveness some years ago that helped me to appreciate its rightful place within a life dedicated to soul growth. And that is that true forgiveness is the act of letting go…on the deepest level where we are able to release the hurt that has occupied space in our heart. Rather than an act of the will or a decision to be made, real forgiveness comes through the process of reconciling our own life story with the “wrongs” that have been done to us.
But how do we get to this place? How do we get to the place where we find the insight and understanding to finally let go…?
Here’s the paradox: we can’t let go of our pain and the story around which it centers, until we can fully embrace it. When it comes to our deepest wounds and heartaches, it is human nature to turn away; cloak it, deny it, dress it in gossamer – anything rather than confronting it head on and seeing the painful reality of a given situation. But this is what forgiveness requires – and that’s why it’s so much more profound than most people give it credit for. It’s dicey business, and it greatly helps to have a trusted guide that can hold space, act as witness and point us in the right direction.
Another reason that this work can feel so daunting is because the pain that we have the most trouble letting go of can often be traced back to a deeper, earlier wound from our family of origin. You may need to trace your pain back to this original source in order to truly let it go. Here’s what I mean by this, I’ll give you an example:
Some years ago, I went through a horrible break-up with a close friend and was left feeling totally f#@*ed over. Two years after the event, I was still in turmoil over the break-up but didn’t know why. I had made new friends that I loved, and engaged in all sorts of healing work in order to let go, move on and forgive. But it was still there, that same awful hurt and confusion.
It was only through the love and guidance of a dear friend (who is also an incredibly wise healer) and the Flower Essence Energy Work that she gave to me, that I was able to see the profound resonance that the story of my friendship/breakup had with an ongoing theme within my family of origin. Once I saw this truth, felt the deep resonance within me, and mourned from this place, I no longer needed to hold onto my sense of victimhood around the story with my friend. I understood that the experience of our breakup was educating me about a piece of myself that I couldn’t see. Once I had received the lesson that this experience was pointing me towards, I was able to let go of the pain that had been festering in my heart, and open to the Grace and freedom that only greater self-awareness can bring.
And that’s the Grace of letting go… and of true healing.
Share Your Thoughts on the Blog
I’d love to hear YOUR experiences of forgiveness, letting go, holding on, and everything in between. Have you been stuck in a place where you want to forgive, but don’t know how? Have you ever found forgiveness to be a deeply spiritual experience? Please contribute to the community and share your thoughts below.