Opening Our Heart to Forgiveness
“Opening our Heart to Forgiveness”
by Rev. Christine 7/19/2020
Considering all that’s going on during this pandemic, I decided to talk about forgiveness. Forgiveness is a form of acceptance. Forgiveness opens the gateway to happiness, love, peace of mind, health and wealth.
Not forgiving is like a poison that we wish to give to the offender; the one we believe did harm to us. But in reality, we are the one that is actually taking this poison. When forgiveness is not dealt with, it will take root and begin to grow into bitterness and hatred that will eat us up from the inside out. The act of unforgiving is made up of anger, resentment, power, and can affect every area of our life.
This poison doesn’t just stay directed to the other person involved, but its like tossing a boomerang, and comes back to us. This poison then seeps into all aspects of our life; our physical and mental health, our relationships with family and friends, our ability to focus and work, blocks our prosperity, and puts up a wall in our relationship with God. With all that said, why wouldn’t someone want to forgive? Here are some dark or hidden benefits of not forgiving:
1. Debt is power; there is power in having something to hold over another. In moments when we want our own way, we pull out some wrong against us as our relational trump card.
2. Debt is identity: Having something to hold over another gives us a sense of being superior to them. It allows us to feel we are more righteous and mature than they are.
3. Debt of entitlement: Because of all the other person’s wrongs against us, this person owes us. Carrying these wrongs makes us feel deserving and therefore comfortable with being self-focused and demanding.
4. Debt is weaponry: The acts done against us by another become like a loaded gun that we carry around. It is very tempting to pull them out and use them when we are angry. When someone has hurt us in some way, it is very tempting to hurt them back by throwing in their face just how bad and immature they are.
5. Debt puts us in God’s position: When hurt by another it is very tempting to become the judge and jury. We feel the right to dispense punishment, consequences, or even revenge.
If people really understood what it means to not forgive, they would want to release it quickly. It would be like holding onto a hot potato. Remember that game, that when someone throws you a potato that you have to give it to someone else as quickly as possible. Well that is much like holding on to anger and resentment - but you don’t throw it to another person - but to God to be healed.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15: “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if you forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In many translations the word debt is in place of trespasses.
In Mark 11:25, “And when you stand to pray, forgive whatever you have against any man, so that your Father in heaven will forgive you your trespasses.”
Then in Matt. 18:22, “Peter asks Jesus, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Til seven times? Jesus said, “I say not unto you, until seven times; but, until seventy times seven.”
The word forgive in Aramaic language means to cancel the debt, to make restitution. Jesus taught to pray and do good works towards our enemies. Jesus was really teaching about the Oneness effect; what you do to another you are really doing to and for yourself.
Forgiveness can be a tricky thing, or should I say sticky thing; for the offense seems to want to stay and be stuck tight like a band-aid covering a sore.
I remember teaching my children to say “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you”, and not really teaching them what it means to forgive and be forgiven. “I’m sorry” can be just meaningless words unless there is a change in consciousness, in a person’s actions.
What does “I forgive you” really mean? I remember being taught that to forgive meant you had to forget what happened - amnesia, and now be loving. The problem was, that I didn’t feel loving - I wasn’t ready to forgive and hadn’t really forgave or forgot. So how do people get to that point to want to forgive?
The best thing we can do for our self is to forgive, if not just because it will free us. When we are holding someone else in bondage, we are holding our self in slavery to them. We are the one getting the poison, we are the one feeling the pain and suffering, and they are always somewhere in our thoughts ready to take center stage, and spill out touching others in our life.
Why would we not want to forgive? Seems to me the benefits of forgiving out way the benefits of not forgiving. We’re also talking about the most difficult or challenging to forgive, and that is our own self. If we haven’t been able to forgive the other person involved, it is usually because we still need to forgive our self at some level. If only for not forgiving.
Forgiveness is between our self and God; although it is always good to make amends - take some course in action. Its never too late to forgive, even if the other person is no longer in our life or has made their transition in life. And, that is because it is between our own self and God, and that we are all one regardless of being in this life or not.
The following is a short story that went around the internet a number of years ago titled “Sand & Stone”:
Two friends were walking through the dessert. During some point of the journey they had an argument and one friend slapped the other one in the face. The one who got slapped was hurt, but without saying anything, wrote in the sand: Today my best friend slapped me in the face.
They kept on walking until they found an oasis, where they decided to take a bath. The one who had been slapped got stuck in the mire and started drowning, but the friend saved him. After he recovered from the near drowning, he wrote on a stone: Today my best friend saved my life.
The friend who had slapped and saved his best friend asked him, “After I hurt you, you wrote in the sand and now, you write on a stone, why?” The other friend replied “When someone hurts us we should write it down in sand where winds of forgiveness can erase it away. But, when someone does something good for us, we must engrave it in stone where no wind can ever erase it.”
Think about what this means. Its interesting because by nature the brain writes more deeply the hurts into memory than the good experiences. So it is that much more important that we engrave the good things into our brain by remembering them over and over. And, give no more thought to the hurts - they don’t need it.
True forgiveness takes love and compassion towards the offender - even if its yourself. Its being in that space of wanting forgiveness more than the self-righteousness or pain. It’s a deep desire to be free. For me, I just don’t want to take it with me to the other side, and have to work it out there or on a return trip here. I also discovered that when there is a financial blockage that there is usually someone or something that needs forgiven.
When Jesus said to forgive 7 x 70; this is a way of saying until completely done; mind, body and soul. That is until there is no pull at the gut, no pain, no residue of negative feelings or thoughts towards the person or issue. The experience is not completely forgotten, but the pain it caused is completely released, and healed. There are no more buttons tied to it, to be pushed or triggered.
Years ago, I had been enslaved for months by constant thoughts of what this other person had done. I could feel a knot in the pit of my stomach. I deeply wanted to forgive. Then one day during prayer these words came to me “Father forgive them for they know not what they do, Forgive me for I know not what I do, Forgive us Father for we know not what we do.”
Then in my minds eye, I saw the other person standing before me. We embraced, and then what seemed like wings of a giant angel encompassed the two of us together. The healing was done - I felt released, the pain was gone.
This prayer is particularly good when we don’t know our part, but we do know it does take two to tango. A couple of years later, our paths crossed. We talked, and the healing was now completed at both ends.
Today I have another technique to share with you, that I have used, titled “Tibetan Prayer for a difficult person.” Its from the book “Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking” by Christopher Hansard. The following is from the book:
“A difficult person is someone who throws their emotional energy at you, causing you upset and shock and making you feel defenseless. A difficult person is someone who persecutes you or obstructs your path in life.
“It can also be someone who tries to cause you emotional or physical harm or damage your reputation. It is also someone who tries to steal your belongings, wealth, or creativity.
“Never wish them harm. What you must wish them is self-knowledge. This is a spiritual kick in the backside that leaves no bruise, creates no harm, and gives you a compassionate view of the situation and the difficult person.”
This exercise is to be done twice a day, in the morning and evening. Sit quietly, focusing upon the individual and picturing them in your mind - it can also be down for your own self. Then direct this thought toward that person, speaking it out loud either 3 or 9 times.
“May all blessing flow to you. May self-knowledge flow to you. I reclaim the power you have taken from me; it is mind to take back, it is my right.
May love and good fortune come to you now. As I now speak you are no longer a problem for me! Your difficult energy dissolves into wisdom. You regard me with respect.”
At the end of this clap your hand 3 times very loudly to seal your invocation.
Now let us repeat this for our own self.
“May all blessing flow to me. May self-knowledge flow to me. I reclaim the power I have taken from me; it is mind to take back, it is my right.
May love and good fortune come to me now. As I now speak I am no longer a problem for me! My difficult energy dissolves into wisdom. I regard myself with respect.”