forgiveness – a meditation

heart

 

Show me how to love the unlovable
Show me how to reach the unreachable
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

It'll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what its power can do
So let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you

Matthew West – Forgiveness

Forgiveness…

I have had to learn that forgiveness does not mean forgetting.
… that forgiveness does not mean what happened was “ok”.
… that forgiveness does not say “do it to me again.”
… that forgiveness does not mean I can't set boundaries.
But most of all, I have had to learn that forgiveness is for me.
… that forgiveness opens a path to healing.
… that forgiveness frees my heart.
… that forgiveness brings me closer to God.

Forgiveness can come from a lot of places.

Forgiveness can come from understanding and compassion. From understanding that people are fallible, and that most of the time we are doing the best we know how to do. From compassion for another's struggle and pain. From understanding that addiction is a disease of the mind and spirit, and compassion for the compulsion and obsession that is inevitable in active addiction.

Forgiveness can come from love. Love that encompasses and holds another in their full humanity and brokenness. Love that says “You are too important to me, for me to throw you out of my heart.” Love that is able to say, “I will hold you in my heart, but it is not healthy for me to have you in my life right now.” Love like God has for all of us.

Forgiveness can come from recognizing that holding onto pain and resentment hurts me more than it hurts the object of my anger. Every resentment, every grudge, every remembered pain keeps me from serenity. Every time I lie awake chewing over some past wrong, every time my gut tightens at the memory, every time I turn away in anger from another person is a time that removes me from living my life for myself, a time that I am not fully in the present moment, a time that I am not enjoying what is happening right here, right now.

It helps me to remember that forgiveness does not condone past wrongs. Forgiveness is not the same as saying “It was OK.” It is not forgetting that we were hurt. And it is definitely not saying “Do it to me again!” I can find forgiveness for past hurts, while setting boundaries to prevent future harm. If somebody stole from me, I can say “you may not come into my house.” If someone was emotionally abusive to me, I can say “I will not be with you.” If their behavior came from active drinking, I can say “I will spend time with you only when you are sober.” If someone repeatedly violates my physical space, I will say “next time you come here without my permission, I will call the police.” In forgiveness, I can do these things with love and compassion, rather than with anger and rejection.

Finding forgiveness heals my heart, bringing me peace and serenity. Finding forgiveness allows me to remember what happened without reliving the pain. Finding forgiveness brings me closer to the life that my Higher Power wants me to live.

Forgiving is not always easy. But it is necessary … for me.

A meditation for December 26, 2013.


Matthew West – Forgiveness

Katie Couric interviewed Matthew West about his inspiration for this song, how it came from the story of a woman who had forgiven her daughter's killer. If you let it play through, it is followed up by an interview with her and the man who killed her daughter in a DUI accident, and his search for self-forgiveness.

The Guardian has an amazing list of songs about forgiveness that were recommended by its readers.

This meditation was inspired by a question posted in the Al-Anon forum at In The Rooms.

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