I’ve been thinking about forgiveness recently, and have come across two different memes on Facebook that present forgiveness in a different light from the way most of us view it. Of course, it’s always possible to forgive yourself, but let’s talk for a moment about the usual case, which is forgiving someone else for something they have said or done. The ideal seems to be for the person who did wrong to admit their wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness from the person who was wronged. The person who is wronged ideally agrees to forgive the transgressor and thereafter everything is just peachy keen. Right?
Most of the time, that is not the case. First of all, the person who has done wrong doesn’t always realize it, due to simple lack of awareness. Or the person refuses to admit it because he is in denial. Sometimes the person has moved away – or we have – and we can no longer locate the person, or we just don’t move in the same circles anymore. Sometimes the person we need to forgive has already died. Whatever the reason, the people we need to forgive don’t always ask for our forgiveness. Does this mean we can’t forgive them? The answer comes in the form of this first quote from Louise Hay, an expert in healing on all levels.
The act of forgiveness takes place in our own mind. It really has nothing to do with the other person.
I do have a person to forgive right now. This person has done something to someone else that I cannot condone, but I realize that an act of forgiveness on my part is not really for him. Nor is it for the person he has harmed. It is for me. Karmic justice will be done in the fullness of time, and he will deal with his own issues when he is ready to, in this life or some future life. I need to allow that to happen and wish him well. I need to erase judgmental thoughts from my mind and allow life to work the way it is supposed to. My challenge is to acknowledge what he has done and wish him well, anyway. Further, my challenge is to offer him unconditional love at the level of Soul, while cutting my connection with him in physical life. In any event, it is I who have inner work to do. I need to take care of my own inner work and leave him to take care of his when he will.
When you forgive, you don’t change the past. You change the future.
This answers my question about the actual act that I wish to forgive the person for. I can’t change the past, and neither can he. But I can change the future – not his future, but my own.
In my own future, I will be lighter and freer, unencumbered by this piece of baggage that is my judgmental thoughts and the heaviness that I feel when I think of the negative consequences of his actions. I want to move forward without this baggage, without the heaviness, without the icky feeling. I can’t change the past and I can’t forget it, but what I can do is disconnect the negative feelings from the memories. I can quit putting energy into feelings of judgment and anger and put that energy elsewhere. And I can allow this person the space he needs to make his changes, if that is his choice.
Truly, when we forgive, we change ourselves, not the other person. 🙂