Remembering forgiveness

Forgiveness is transformative and can bring richness into people’s lives. Yet when asked what forgiveness means, everyone has a different answer.

by Dr. Eileen Borris — 

Now that the holidays are over, some of you may be wondering, “Where is the peace and goodwill towards men?” Have we forgotten about last year’s story that had such significant impact on many people, about the way the Amish were able to forgive the horrific murder of five innocent children? Now that we have packed up our decorations, have we also relapsed into business as usual and forgotten the spirit of love and forgiveness?

Forgiveness is transformative and can bring richness into people’s lives. Yet when asked what forgiveness means, everyone has a different answer. Here is a very simple definition of forgiveness, from a psycho-spiritual perspective.

Forgiveness is a voluntary act in which you make a decision to see a situation differently. Forgiveness helps us change the way we think — so rather than seeing a situation through the lens of anger, guilt or fear, we see it through the eyes of compassion and understanding. Instead of getting stuck in our own emotional baggage, we can now see the situation with greater wisdom and understanding.

Forgiveness can be thought of as the science of the heart, a discipline of discovering all the ways of being that will extend our love to the world and discarding all the ways that do not. It is the accomplishment of mastery over a wound. Forgiveness is a process through which an injured person first fights off, then embraces, then conquers a situation that may have nearly destroyed him or her.

On a deeper level, forgiveness is about changing the way we think. It includes embracing our humanity and spiritual nature, and the humanity and spiritual nature of all people. This is one of the greatest aspects of forgiveness, which the Amish demonstrated so beautifully. The Amish never lost sight of the fact that, above all else, Carl Roberts was a human being.

They were able to see past Roberts’ actions and recognize his humanity. This is seeing with spiritual sight. This gave the Amish the ability to sympathize with his family for their loss and move forward with compassion, and not vengeful hate. This is one of the keys to learning how to forgive: seeing past the outer behavior to the light within us all.

 

Dr. Eileen Borris, a licensed psychologist with a private practice in Scottsdale, Ariz. She is the author of Finding Forgiveness: A 7-Step Program for Letting Go of Anger and Bitterness. 480-951-0544 or www.dreileenborris.com. 

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 26, Number 1, February/March 2007.

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