Forgiveness is never easy. It’s even harder when there's no one specific person to forgive.
Like me, you might have been taught to forgive others when you feel you've been hurt or “wronged” by their actions. You might have worked your whole life developing a strong practice of forgiveness. And you might have even gotten pretty good at it. I’ve learned to forgive my ex-husband and myself for our divorce, my dad for not knowing how to connect with his daughters, my friends who've opted out of our relationship after Adeline’s stillbirth. As life is full of relationships, there will always be people to forgive.
However, sometimes something happens and there’s no specific person to forgive. Adeline's stillborn was no one's fault. It was one of those horrible, tragic, unimaginable things that unfortunately just happens in this world. There are no explanations nor anyone to blame. So if no one offended me or hurt my feelings, why would I need to go through the process of forgiving? How do I begin to forgive when no one has done anything wrong?
Why focus on forgiveness?
- Blame is Enticing: As humans we search to understand the unexplainable. When we cannot find answers, we often find someone, something, anything to blame. We direct all our energies at whomever or whatever we can find; our God, our spouse, our parents, the doctors, the hospital, the world in general. We frantically grasp at whatever we can, trying to make sense of something so unbelievable. Blame allows our minds to redirect our energy towards another and distract ourselves from feeling our pain. It’s easier to blame than to feel the hurt. And, I admit, it feels good for a moment, but a vicious and potentially-destructive path lies before you if you continue the cycle of blame. Negative energies build like tropical storms at sea. Twisting in the wind, they feed on chaos. They build until they become full-blown hurricanes with a path of destruction ahead.
- Negative Emotions are Destructive: The thought of letting go is scary. As we crash into our reality, like a hurricane hitting land, we begin to slow down and to notice the destructive wake of blame. When we choose to stop blaming, we have to then decided what to with all those feelings of anger, frustration, pain, and hurt. Many times, we hold onto them as we travel along our path, attempting to keep up our strength because we're afraid to let go. The pain is all we have left. If we let go, there will be nothing left to hold onto. Like the aftermath of a hurricane, it will look all cleaned up and, therefore, be forgotten. By holding onto our pain, we think we're also holding onto our loved ones, keeping them near. If we let go of the pain, what’s left?
- Open Your Heart: Forgiveness has never been about the other person. It’s alway been about what happens within our own hearts. A shift occurs when we let go of negative emotions. All of a sudden there's additional space in our hearts and love rushes in to fill the void. Like the eye of a hurricane, we find ourselves surrounded by calm in the chaos. The clouds that developed by our negative emotions no longer block our view. We can see and feel the love again.
- Forgiving is Not Condoning: I will never be ok with losing my child. Forgiveness does not mean I’m saying it’s ok. It’s not and never will be. I will, however, find a way to forgive “life” for giving me this ridiculous hurdle and making my heart hurt so much. I choose to let go, in order to expereince the love of my daughter instead of the anger of her loss.
• I will remember her without the weight of anger and hurt.
• I will honor her by finding and embracing the joy in this world.
• I will expereince her not through my anger but through our love.
When we forgive, we make a conscious choice to live differently. We choose to push the cloud of anger aside and to embrace the sunshine raining down on our faces. Can you feel the sunshine? If not, ask yourself, “What can I do to move some of those clouds out of the way?” and take action. When we make a choice to take action, we learn that tomorrow can be a little brighter than today.
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