The Freedom of Forgiveness
– by Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino
I believe in the healing power of love, in the transformation created in our lives when we allow ourselves to give and receive love with our hearts wide, wide open.
Life events this year have led me to examine more closely the various aspects of love, and to feel love even more intensely. In the process, I have been exploring forgiveness, an aspect of unconditional love that is sometimes overlooked. We may lose sight of the fear, anger, resentment and sadness associated with our decisions not to forgive others, or ourselves, for the conscious or unconscious hurts we have experienced. Some of us carry the burden of past hurts around with us for years with little awareness of their weight in our day-to-day existence. Fleeting or persistent thoughts about hurtful things that were done or said to us, thoughts pushed aside but not truly addressed, can sap our strength and energy, and they can interfere with our ability to experience joy in our lives.
Forgiveness has the potential to free us from these burdens, though the act of forgiving may be more difficult than we think. For the most hurtful experiences in our lives, the advice to “forgive and forget” misses an essential step even when our intention to forgive is genuine. Once we decide to forgive someone, we must take steps to heal the hurt, to truly let it go, before we can move to the step of forgetting it. We need to release the pain, the anger, the resentment that resulted from the actions or words that injured us. This release may come through meditation, through prayer, in conversations with a friend, in therapy, or by any of the ways we move through our important life lessons. Releasing the hurt must be intentional, as it is highly unlikely that the pain will magically disappear simply because we made the choice to forgive.
In our personal exploration of forgiveness, we can also benefit greatly from understanding the things for which we blame ourselves. That list may be short or long… the experience of not meeting the expectations of ourselves or others… the feeling of letting others down… the could haves, should haves… all of the hurtful words or actions for which we hold ourselves responsible. Self-directed blame, disappointment, and anger can be the most significant burdens in our lives and often we carry them without asking ourselves why we have not chosen to let them go.
Our choice to forgive frees us. Our requests to be forgiven free us further. Forgiveness gives us the space to love others and ourselves more fully. In every moment, we can choose the freedom of forgiveness and thereby open our hearts completely to the healing power of love.
Sharon Kathryn D’Agostino believes that love and compassion can and will save the world. She is the founder of SayItForward.org, a web platform where women and girls are invited to share their stories of empowerment. Sharon can be found on Twitter at @SharonDAgostino, @SayItForwardNow and @AwakeningTrue
Editor’s Note: Please join Sharon as she steps up to host our weekly twitter chat on Sunday, Dec 9th at 9amET. Sharon is a long-time regular in our Sunday morning gatherings, a great proponent for women and for choosing love, and a wonderful friend of the community. Thank you. – Kumud @AjmaniK