“Forgiveness is a path to peace and a powerful and important component of love”. -Sharon Salzberg
Forgiveness is something I have heard over and over in the church, from my parents, and from friends and mentors throughout my life. But until recently it is not something I have put into practice in my life.
It’s so absent that a couple weeks ago is the first time I ever actually asked for it. Not because this was the first time that I needed to but because it is so much easier to glorify the idea and acknowledge it’s what we should do than it is to humble ourselves and actually do it. I wasn’t 100% sure what I was apologizing for until I started speaking. I will spare you all the details but I will tell you that it was one of the most powerful and freeing experiences I’ve had.
It was a small encounter that wouldn’t have looked like much to anyone else but for me it was really healing. I had put a wall up around my heart when it came to being in relationship with this person. I wasn’t letting any love in nor was I giving any of mine. The bricks I used to build this wall were resentment and pride. I would justify building it, convincing myself I deserved to feel the way I did and telling myself it was her fault our relationship looked the way it did. The truth is that this wall was a lot more about me than it was about her. I was fearful of her confidence and there were things about her that reminded me of past hurts I was holding on to.
But when I apologized and asked if she would forgive me I could feel my heart soften and a space within my spirit open up. A space that allowed me to love more freely and to see her more clearly. It felt like the Spirit was whispering to her through me “come on in you are welcome here” and giving me a deep gratitude for the way God also welcomes me to participate in His life no matter what I do. It was a felt experience for both of us. It gave me a freedom that I have never felt before and it also caused me to look inside at those past hurts that hadn’t quite been healed yet.
I don’t say that to make it sound easy or like a quick process at all. It is not. It is terrifying and vulnerable and is hard to admit that you’ve done something that warrants an apology. But I say it because I know in relationship there is a lot of hurt and there are many times that we have to let go and forgive and also to ask for forgiveness. I have sat with clients who have experienced hurt some accidents and some intentional. But whatever it is we must find ways to open our hearts to life and people again instead of building walls. This is the only way that we grow. I am not naïve to think that people always deserve this forgiveness or will respond well to a conversation about it but I do know that when we let hurt sit around unexpressed it can turn into resentment that begins to control our lives.
You deserve to live out the beautiful soul that is at your center that is brave, tender, and deeply connected to God and others. This is such a unique gift we each have inside of us that the world so desperately needs. We can’t let hurt steal that from us. Instead let’s grieve the pain and then allow it to strengthen us, soften us, and move us into more compassion for ourselves and others.
The Refuge Center is committed to creating a safe place for you to grieve and to grow. Often the resentment and anger that we’ve locked inside and used as a shield keeps us from doing this growing. We are hoping it will protect us from pain but instead it also keeps us from joy, connection, and from accessing the soul that is beneath the pain. Whatever the situation, forgiveness is part of relationship and we will support you as you face this life bravely-finding ways to grow and remain open in the most painful situations.