One would think that claiming to be a spiritual person means I am free from anger, judgement, grudges. Weeeeellllll. Uhhhh.
Being a spiritual person means I am aware of these things in my heart. And I face them. I strive to resolve them.
It seems that whenever I think I have tackled an issue, another issue comes up. Like an archeological dig. Or de-cluttering my house. “Oh! Look! There that thing is!” Layer upon layer of this life, past lives and possibly future lives being uncovered.
Forgiveness can be a hot button topic. What is forgiveness? Who gets forgiven? Why forgive?
Forgiveness means different things to different people. Some people of faith believe their Higher Power is the only one who forgives them. They trudge through life with the weight of their sins on their souls. They are beaten down about how sinful they are. Their self-worth is, frankly, shot over all this sinning going on.
Growing up Catholic, I remember going to confession a lot. Once a week. I went to a parochial school – that’s a catholic school. Uniforms, weekly mass, nuns. The whole she-bang.
I was a good kid. I took the teachings of the Church pretty seriously. I really tried not to sin. Whatever that means to a 7 year old.
I remember being in confession in third grade, was it? I didn’t have anything to confess. So I lied. And then, I included lying in my confession. I also included swearing and a soupcon of coveting.
I got a short lecture from the priest on the use the “GD.” That’s goddamn, in priest speak. Then I got my penance. Hail Mary’s and a promise to “sin no more.”
Anyway, Confession is an exercise in forgiveness. From an external source. The priest, God. Whoever. But not yourself.
A more recent example. I was at a consciousness-raising retreat. I had said I couldn’t afford it. The facilitator cut me a deal so I could.
Sweet baby Jeebus, it seemed that all hell broke loose that final day. We were cleaning up. I got tired. I took a break. Sat on the porch with a lemonade. Got yelled at. That day and another day soon after. I listened. I apologized.
Then I was assigned the homework of calling each participant and apologizing.
I look back on it now and think, WTH?
I started the exercise and the few people I talked to said they had not been offended. One I was able to talk to to the point of getting her to understand what my perspective was.
Still, I was looking for an external source of forgiveness. Both of these instances were not only external, but for nothing really.
Later in life, I find there are ideas, standards, outside influences I am more aware of. I don’t take them on.
There are all those memes now about if you don’t gain something that’s not weight, but a skill, or craft a crazy amount of time-consuming meals, or build a house, or whatever, you’re some sort of a slob. That you are lacking in something
That is taking on another person’s expectation or standard, not their resources. And then beating yourself up about not meeting that standard. Or having that resource.
Stop it .Cut it out. There will be no quiz on what you got done during self-isolation.
Here’s a chance to forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can right now with what you have.
There is forgiveness to be had, but I realize it is to forgive myself. I do not need to beg forgiveness from another person. I get to give myself that forgiveness.
So what is forgiveness?
I love this definition by Greater Good Magazine based at University of California at Berkley:
“Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness. … “
Thisis my favorite part:
“Forgiveness does not mean forgetting, nor does it mean condoning or excusing offenses.”
OK. For all my time exploring forgiveness, I have felt the last sentence – not condoning or excusing offenses – was the flaw in my thinking.
Hah! Self-forgiveness time.
I see self-forgiveness as reclaiming your power or energy from another.
So, someone stole your parking space. You’re angry. You carry that anger around with you all day. This person’s inconsideration has wrecked your day.
You have given over a piece of your personal power to this person. You are so focused on them and their inconsiderate behavior. They have power over you. That’s not an optimum way of being.
If you take a moment to reclaim that power from them, say, “eh, whatever,” to bring that energy back to yourself, you have forgiven them. Maybe what they did wasn’t nice, but you can regain your ability to go through your day with your energy intact. With your sanity intact.
Yeah, so that’s a parking space. So what about bigger issues? The Bigger stuff?
I won’t sit here and tell you what is a bigger issue which you can forgive. It is your perspective that counts to you. I can relate a big issue for me:
Not saying to make you feel guilty about anything. I am not asking to take your power over this. This is my experience and perspective.
My mom died from colon cancer when I was 13. She was 47. Ten years later, my older sister, Shirley, died from breast cancer. I was 23. She was 27.
I spent years identifying as the kid whose mother died. I enjoyed the special recognition my sisters and I got being one of the “Parker girls.” Everybody knew what that meant. It continues today with the people I grew up with.
I have spent *years* working through all that. I have forgiven my mom and Shirley for dying too soon. I think.
I think I may have finally said “Whatever” (Okay, more like f*** off) to the nun who told me at my mother’s funeral that it was good not to cry, that I needed to be a strong soldier. I have taken back my power from her. I have reclaimed my energy from Sr. Mary Katherine.
Flash forward to me being 51. After months of unpleasantness, I was bedridden. I was diagnosed with – get this – colon AND breast cancer. Both of them. Three primary sites. It hadn’t metastasized.
I spent the next 17 months in treatment. And no, I am not going to expound on the validity of the treatment options. All that is in the past. As of this posting, I am 8-yrs clear. And I intend to stay that way. (Refer to my recording on cord cutting.)
My three children were is approximately the same age as two of my sisters and I were at the time my mom was sick and died. I saw all kinds of monsters on the walls during my initial hospital stay. I could empathize with my kids. They were having to deal with their mother being catastrophically ill. Everyone was wondering Would I survive?
I set my whole being to the goal of changing the outcome of this story. I would survive. (refer to my podcast about intention.)
And I did. I am changed – physically, emotionally, psychologically. I am still here.
I have forgiveness to give. Yes, give it. I forgive myself for getting sick. I saw the greater purpose of it. I had to change the end of the story. I had to heal my family. I had to go through it to satisfy a piece of my soul’s purpose.
I have grown in so many ways. Compassion. Spiritual insight. My channeling rocks. I am open to enjoy so much more. I don’t waste too much time on petty stuff. I learned to ask for help. I learned that some people will help, others won’t or can’t, and others will run away scared.
Forgiving myself for getting sick. That is the question. Reclaiming my power. My self. That is the goal.
I think I have. I use my experience as teaching tool. A story to explain different lessons. I don’t tell it to gain sympathy or to make anybody cry. I tell it to show you that I am still here. I am kicking and laughing and swearing. Doing the things I can to make the world a better place.
Yeah, in many ways I am much better than I was.
There are deep, deep issues far too many people are faced with when it comes to forgiveness. Events and relationships that require professional help and possibly years of it.
I do not claim to have the answers that will magically fix or heal you. I ask you to look at yourself. Really look at yourself with love and compassion. Honor the life you have lived. See your humanity.
Accept the consequences of some of your actions.
Realize that not everything was your fault. No, fault is a blaming word. Someone tells you it was your fault.
No, It wasn’t your fault. You are not to blame for it.
You can heal from it.
Self-forgiveness is the first big step. You can take that first step here.
Until next time.