“Forgiveness does not excuse anything. You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness.”
― Wm. Paul Young,
I have to give credit where credit is due. Wm. Paul Young, with this, beautifully penned, group of thoughts has brought together words for forgiveness for me. He has helped it make sense and helped me make peace with what I’ve fought and wrestled with, for years!
Some of you, are wrestling with this and have been for years. You’re growing tired of wrestling and fighting with the realization that you need to forgive. Some of you are wracked with exhaustion, but you know that the time has come to forgive another person.
I’m here to tell you the bad news: forgiveness has no formula.
I’m sorry, but I believe this to be true. There is no single way to forgiveness, often, it’s a series of steps taken daily, hourly, even minute by minute.
From the Couch (My Story)
For me, forgiveness has involved a series of steps:
- Admitting to myself that I am not always right. I continue to have to forgive myself for believing the lie, “In order to give and receive love, you must be perfect.” Because you see, for me, and many others; forgiveness isn’t about the other person, it’s about us.
- Secondly, I’ve had to admit that no matter how dastardly and terrible the deed; no person is without error. No person. None. We are all flawed in some form or fashion as a result of the life we’ve lived, experienced, battled, or been privileged with. Life is not flawless and neither are we.
- I’ve had to realize that forgiveness does not mean that we will be friends again or that I even will like the person. The caveat of this is that I’ve also had to realize the person I’m forgiving or asking for forgiveness doesn’t have to like me. Forgiveness means, I acknowledge our shared humanity and realize “it happened” but no longer let the emotions of that moment(s) control or own me. I am free and, in turn, free the other person.
- Lastly, I’ve had to change how I tell my story. I’ve changed how I talk about certain people, places, and things. To this day, I speak of people who’ve harmed me in ways that show they affected me, but not that I have any bitterness toward them. As the author of my life, I am able to do view each character with a certain distance and see their bigger role in my story. Writing has given me a gift that has aided my forgiveness tremendously–perspective.
Where do you find your perspective?
Have you found perspective?
This the key to the cell that confines you. Whether your bars are made of steel, bitterness, or resentment, I argue that you are imprisoned.
If you’re unable to forgive then I believe that you have yet to find perspective, or create meaning, out of this event.
Once you are able to find perspective, whether through writing, coloring, drawing, painting, creating, taking photos etc; you will begin to find perspective on your story if your intention is to focus on this event while engaging your heart.
Creativity is the pathway to healing.
Sometimes words can only take you so far. It’s why we use art therapy to help traumatized children process their grief, abuse, pain, etc. Sometimes words only cheapen what’s happened to you. Sometimes, the pain must be expressed to be eliminated, not just acknowledged. It’s in the expression that you’re able to embrace forgiveness. You can’t have one without the other.
I implore you, push away the logical for the day, take away everything your brain has been telling you and let your body speak to you in ways it never has when you engage your right (creative) hemisphere in your brain. Say less and express more.
Take a chance. Create your healing.
Take a photo.
Paint a picture.
Color a page.
Write a poem.
Play an instrument.
Talk to yourself.
Blog your story.
Tell your story.
Leave your head and embrace your heart.
Oh, and one more thing, don’t judge your work. It’s not your job to judge; it’s your job to heal and, remember, healing is not on a timeline.
Be well friends,
Behind the Desk (Author’s Final Thoughts)
I used to have clients draw for me. I often worked with teens and found that allowing them (even inviting them) to color, draw, play with toys, etc; brought out their inner-most feelings that they tried to hide with words. It invited them to access the world behind their mask. So, for a moment, step into your inner child and bring out what you’ve been trying to hide away. The only way to forgiveness is through forgiveness and it begins with a step. Are you willing to take it today?