This is a special edition blog, inspired by the coming of Yom Kippur, the High Holy Days’ fast, and the beginning of Autumn. This time in the Jewish calendar is a time of introspection, as we look at the new year and decide what we want to improve on from last year. So, too, with the coming of Autumn. People sensitive to the changes in nature know this time to be one of letting go of the things that do not help us move forward on our journeys (like leaves that fall to the ground), and inviting in that which does.
These areas of introspection lead us to the question of forgiveness. Are we able to forgive ourselves for the way we behaved? Are we able to forgive others for their transgressions against us? Are we able to forgive G-d/the Universe/the environment for the challenges that have befallen us?
I would like to share with you some insights I have been lucky enough to pick up over the year, and mix that with my personal experiences in this area. Please keep an open mind and open heart when you read the following. People who are holding on to a lot of resentment and anger may have a hard time accepting some of what is written here. I invite you to read through to the end, please, before you make any decisions.
*First and foremost, forgiveness is for your peace of mind. –unknown
*Forgiveness is the recognition that the past could not have been any different than it was. –Stacey Martino
*Forgiveness and amends are two separate ideas. The former is for yourself and your well being. The second is for the well being of your relationship with the person who has hurt you. –Stacey Martino
*Not forgiving someone is like taking the poison you set out for them and drinking it yourself. –Stacey Martino
What is forgiveness? When we talk about forgiveness, we are NOT talking about forgiving the person who hurt you. That is amends. When we talk about forgiveness, we are looking to resolve the past reality with what we hoped it would be. If one, however, truly accepts that what G-d/the Universe does for us and brings to us is truly and absolutely for our best, then wishing the past were any different is really against our best interest. Life happened this way for a reason. That reason is to present you with a unique learning experience.
Inside every difficult challenge in life is a beautiful present. In future blogs I will tell you more about some of the gifts I have found inside some very difficult packages. For now, whether you have personally seen this to be true or not, let us suppose it to be the truth. G-d does not send down to earth anything that is not good (Baal Shem Tov). What appears to be “bad”, difficult, unbearable, is simply a growth lesson for us. Just as children who are growing experience growing pains on a physical level, so too our souls experience pain as we grow and stretch ourselves past our previous limits. It is a true treasure when one gets to this point of realization – one can see that everything truly is a gift.
Back to forgiveness. When one recognizes that the past could and should not have been any different than it actually was, he can let go of his lost hopes. In its place true peace comes, from the knowledge that G-d has our best interest in mind, and things are exactly as they should be. We are only left with this: what are we doing with the lesson? Are we learning it, or are we squandering it by focusing on our anger and hurt? Are we remaining closed and holding on tight to our resentment, to the lost past, or are we opening ourselves up to our better selves, and a greater future?
I have had the experience, more than once, of having myself or a loved one hurt in a very fundamental way by another loved one. The pain went deep, and was incurred over a long period of time. Mentioning it now still causes an ache inside. We held on to the pain for years. And then we started to let go. We saw that we were hurting ourselves in the process of holding on to all that pain. Really, holding on to the hurt does not hurt the perpetrator like we like to think it does. They are going on with their lives. We are not hurting them. We are hurting ourselves. By staying closed and holding the pain and anger inside, we stop ourselves from transforming, from growing, from loving freely.
That is the meaning of forgiveness. It is a gift for you to give to yourself. To allow you to truly be who you were meant to be. Not forgiving only allows the original hurt to hurt you again – by stopping you from blooming into the best version of yourself.
I wish you all a wonderful peaceful New Year, with much health, happiness, freedom of spirit, and peace of mind.
With love and serenity,
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