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Monday, December 22, 2014

Personal Philosophy on Forgiveness

Posted by Stephanie on August 3, 2010

Dictionary.com tells us that, “Forgiveness means the act of forgiving; the state of being forgiven.”

I do not forgive. Because to ‘forgive’ assumes that I see you as having done, or not done, something that I judge to be unworthy of you.

I see life like a stage. Each actor plays their part, their role, in this performance of a lifetime.

Say we had a three man show; actor Tom played one role, actor Dick played another, and actor Harry played the third role, at the mid-day showing. AND let’s say, at the end of the show they all moved their performance to another town, and did the same show all over again, but this time they changed roles, just so they could have some variety. From town to town they played the same play, but from day to day they made different decisions about who would play which part. They were each more than happy to play different parts in the same play at different performances.

Anything that happened while they were playing their role was part of the play. When their parts were finished they did not blame each other for the role they played as it was all in the script. No grudges were held. No forgiveness was necessary. No right or wrong. They simply played different parts in the same play. This is how it all should be, as it was just the role.

As a mother and grandmother I see the world quite differently with love in my heart. Love where everything is forgiven before loved ones have even done or not done the deed. But don’t tell my kids and grandkids this as they think I have eyes in the back of my head and see everything they do or don’t do. I DO of course, but with love I see these special people from the heart, already perfect.

In life we have many ‘storms in teacups’ and we ‘make mountains out of molehills’ and, as life goes on, we find people do or don’t do things we would have wished they didn’t do or wished that they did. By learning to forgive them of these deeds or un-deeds we make space in our hearts for more love. As Hannah More said:

“Forgiveness is the economy of the heart . . . Forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.”
~Hannah More

We may not perceive the ‘cost’ of not forgiving until we become ill. For it is in our own soul that the cost will be felt, not in another’s. THEY do not know we hold a grudge against them, the bitterness is all ours. THEY do not care that we lose our mind and our sleep, they sleep well. Our energy is compromised to a detrimental point, and we are the ones who feel the effects from it. It is like Isabelle Holland said:

“As long as you don’t forgive, who and whatever it is, will occupy rent-free space in your mind.
~Isabelle Holland

To forgive lightens OUR load. It somehow gives US freedom we didn’t know we had lost. Lewis B. Smedes put it so:

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was me.”
~Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness is done retrospectively since it is in the past that one perceives the deed or un-deed. But it is FOR the future that forgiveness is a gift, because it frees our being to a richer, more vibrant, more energetic world.

A Course In Miracles put it nicely when it said:

“To forgive is merely to remember only the loving thoughts you have in the past, and those that were given you. All the rest must be forgotten. Forgiveness is a selective remembering.”
~A Course In Miracles

It seems that everywhere we go in the world, at all levels of society, life is much easier where there is love. The Delai Lama puts it this way:

“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message that is: love, compassion and forgiveness, the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”
~Dalai Lama

The first thought I had when asked to talk about Forgiveness were two biblical quotes, one was where Jesus was on the cross:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
~ Luke 23:34

And the other from The Lord’s Prayer:

“Forgive us our trespasses (sins)
as we forgive those
who trespass (sin) against us.”
~The Lords Prayer

Both were spoken by Jesus imploring Our Heavenly Father to forgive and give Mercy to his children. Jesus led by example as all good teachers do. But what I found fascinating about this second quote is that it is a ‘Relative Forgiveness’.

By ‘Relative Forgiveness’ I mean that, as we forgive others is how our own trespasses will be forgiven.

Forgive us our trespasses (sins)
as we forgive those
who trespass (sin) against us.

~The Lords Prayer

The more we forgive others the more we are forgiven, the less we forgive others the less we are forgiven. Or so it has always seemed to me.

Some time ago I came across a story, which someone had obviously written just for me, it was called “The Room” and I wish to share it with you now:

The Room

“In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features except for the one wall covered with small index card files. They were like the ones in libraries that list titles by author or subject in alphabetical order. But these files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endless in either direction, had very different headings.

“As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “People I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping through the cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one. And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalogue system for my life. Here, were written the actions of my every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.

“A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching.

“A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I Have Betrayed.”

“The titles ranged from the mundane to the outright weird. ”Books I Have Read,” “Lies I Have Told,” “Comfort I Have Given,” “Jokes I Have Laughed At.”

“Some were almost hilarious in their exactness: “Things I’ve Yelled At My Brothers.”

“Others I couldn’t laugh at: “Things I Have Done in My Anger”, “Things I Have Muttered Under My Breath At My Parents.”

“I never ceased to be surprised by the contents. Often there were many more cards than expected. Sometimes fewer than I hoped. I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the life I had lived.

“Could it be possible that I had the time in my years to fill each of these thousands or even millions of cards? But each card confirmed this truth. Each was written in my own handwriting. Each signed with my signature.

“When I pulled out the file marked “TV Shows I have watched,” I realized the files grew to contain their contents. The cards were packed tightly, and yet after two or three yards, I hadn’t found the end of the file. I shut it, shamed, not so much by the quality of shows but more by the vast time I knew that file represented.

“When I came to a file marked “Lustful Thoughts,” I felt a chill run through my body. I pulled the file out only an inch, not willing to test its size, and drew out a card. I shuddered at its detailed content. I felt sick to think that such a moment had been recorded. An almost animal rage broke on me.

“One thought dominated my mind: No one must ever see these cards! No one must ever see this room! I have to destroy them!”

“In insane frenzy, I yanked the file out. Its size didn’t matter now. I had to empty it and burn the cards… But as I took it at one end and began pounding it on the floor, I could not dislodge a single card. I became desperate and pulled out a card, only to find it as strong as steel when I tried to tear it. Defeated and utterly helpless, I returned the file to its slot. Leaning my forehead against the wall, I let out a long, self-pitying sigh.

“And then I saw it. The title bore “People I Have Shared the Gospel With.” The handle was brighter than those around it, newer, almost unused. I pulled on its handle and a small box not more than three inches long fell into my hands. I could count the cards it contained on one hand.

“And then the tears came. I began to weep. I sobbed so deep that I hurt. It started in my stomach and shook through me. I fell on my knees and cried. I cried out of shame, from the overwhelming shame of it all. The rows of file shelves swirled in my tear-filled eyes. No one must ever, ever know of this room. I must lock it up and hide the key.

“But then as I pushed away the tears, I saw Him. No, please not Him. Not here. Oh, anyone but Jesus.

“I watched helplessly as He began to open the files and read the cards. I couldn’t bear to watch His response. And in the moments I could bring myself to look at His face, I saw a sorrow deeper than my own. He seemed to intuitively go to the worst boxes. Why did He have to read every one?

“Finally He turned and looked at me from across the room. He looked at me with pity in His eyes. But this was a pity that didn’t anger me. I dropped my head, covered my face with my hands and began to cry again. He walked over and put His arms around me. He could have said so many things. But He didn’t say a word. He just cried with me.

“Then He got up and walked back to the wall of files. Starting at one end of the room, He took out a file and, one by one, began to sign His name, over mine, on each card.

“”No!” I shouted rushing to Him. All I could find to say was “No, No, No,” as I pulled the card from Him… His name shouldn’t be on these cards. But there it was, written in red so rich, so dark, and so alive. The name of Jesus covered mine. It was written with His blood. He gently took the card back He smiled a sad smile and began to sign the cards.

“I don’t think I’ll ever understand how He did it so quickly, but the next instant it seemed I heard Him close the last file and walk back to my side. He placed His hand on my shoulder and said, “It is finished.”

I stood up, and He led me out of the room. There was no lock on its door. There were still cards to be written.”

~ Author Unknown

At that time I felt forgiven of anything I did or did not do, however serious it may have been.

Franklin P. Jones said:

“One thing you will probably remember well
is any time you forgive and forget.”
~Franklin P. Jones

I feel I can agree with him. I instantly had the feeling of peace in my heart. I also found that it made it easier for me to forgive others. Jennifer O’Neill put it nicely when she said:

“When people realize that they have been forgiven of everything, it becomes a little bit easier for them to forgive others.”
~Jennifer O’Neill

I also found that I could then begin to forgive myself, and in so doing I found my heart soften. I was calmer. I found more joy in life and I was happier in myself. I took more pleasure in the little things in life. Wilfred Paterson said:

“The art of being yourself at your best is the art of unfolding your personality into the person you want to be. . . . Be gentle with yourself, learn to love yourself, to forgive yourself, for only as we have the right attitude toward ourselves can we have the right attitude toward others.”
~Wilfred Paterson

I suppose I am selfish, as I learned that in the act of forgiving and forgiveness I got more – for me, than I got from holding a grudge.

“The most important thing I have learned is not to judge other people as they go about learning their lessons. I may avoid unpleasant people, protect myself from rapists and murderers, and choose not to live the life of a prostitute or monk. However, I do not hate them for their problems or their choices as I could have been doing all of the above.”
~ The Australian Institute for Past Life Studies

Martin Luther King Jr. said:

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act: it is an attitude.”
~Martin Luther King Jr.

It is a change of attitude that becomes a new habit as Peter Ustinov put it:

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”
~Peter Ustinov

If you cannot forgive remember what Robert Brault said:

If you can’t forgive and forget, pick one.
~Robert Brault

And I’ll leave you with one last thought from Mark Twain:

“Forgiveness is
the fragrance the violet sheds
on the heel that has crushed it.”
~Mark Twain