The power of forgiving


“When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive.”

– Alan Paton

Sexually Abused child.

Image via Wikipedia

What a thought.  I love and believe the idea that it is within our power to heal ourselves. But when I think of terrible injuries such as torture, child abuse, sexual abuse, and the double-edged trauma of war—which inflicts not only the receiving of terribly injury but the giving of it—it’s harder to paint with that brush.

Yet what else is there? Many of the greatest minds have said, forgive thine enemies. A pop song puts it this way, Forgive Thine Enemies–But Don’t Forget Their Names. That’s it, I guess. Forgiving does not mean you have to be naive about evil and hatred. It just means you have to stop blaming.

I remember how hard that was for me to do sometimes after my marriage ended during all the times my ex refused to pay child support (and because he was a lawyer he got away with it).

And in contrast, something so small compared to rape or murder can still charge my feelings. I remember how hard it was for me to forgive after an occasion when a nasty, road-raging driver attacked my car with his van after we’d both spent a frustrating 15 minutes on a one-lane road behind an old man who drove consistently under the speed limit.  The van driver raced around me into the right-turn only lane at one light and aimed his vehicle directly at my right front fender. He smashed it into the wheel and tore my bumper off as he slammed to a stop in front of me.  I thought he was going to have a gun in his hand when he got out, slammed his door and came stomping towards my car.

Then, after I’d reported it to the police, and the body repair shop said to me there’s no way this could have happened except someone driving directly into your car, that van driver blithely told his insurance company he hadn’t the vaguest idea how this accident occurred. Tried to tell them maybe I’d been pulling into the right turn lane and ran into him.

I had a hard time even getting on a highway for months after that—the terror that some other maniac might deliberately plow into me. And seriously, it took me almost of year of working at it to truly forgive that injury. I’d have flashbacks. You see how the details are still so vivid in my mind? Just think how it must be for some deep personal violation of your spirit or your body.

I reviewed a book once by a man who’d been held as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp during WWII. It was a horrendous accounting of physical and mental torture that went on day and night for a couple of years. It must have been somewhat cathartic to write about it, but he said all he could hold onto was his story of what he’d been through.

Can we forgive an injury of any magnitude? For anyone who’s suffered torture, there are agencies and organizations that can help. What about your parents? A lot of us could use some balance there. Here’s a

P yin yang

Image via Wikipedia

beautiful idea from a soulful colleague and supporter of SWWAN, Cat Thompson:

Hola amigos!  Can you believe summer has so quickly left the building?  Yet according to the Chinese Five Element calendar, fall is half over this weekend.  Yup, this friday is equinox, that magical time when the planet’s energy shifts direction, and the light and dark are perfectly equal.  It’s a great time to do ceremonies for healing the masculine/feminine.  A great little ceremony I learned from one of my earliest teachers was to balance the Mother/Father within myself.  He said, “it doesn’t matter if your parents are still married, hate each other, love each other, divorced, whatever.  What matters is that you are made up of each of them.  And if they are out of balance, you are out of balance.”  I came home and made a shrine for my inner parents.  Inside a heart shaped box, I put a picture of my parents when they were dating, one of each of them looking across the box at each other.  I added some stones (rose quartz for the heart) and an engagement ring I had sitting around (from a marriage that never manifested!).  I also added some beautiful ribbon and paper to the box.  It sits in my partnership corner of the bagua of my bedroom.  Even if your parents are still happily married, creating a shrine to their love within your own heart will go a long way to balancing the yin and yang of your life.

Cat’s a true teacher. Enjoy her Fall Equinox newsletter.

Even if you’re not ready yet, it can’t hurt to hear what others think about how much forgiving can change your life. Here’s a list of the ten best books on forgiveness. Check them out at your library.

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