You read a lot about forgiveness these days. Some experts advise us to let go of anger and hurt. I understand forgiveness differently. In my opinion, you can’t will yourself to forgive. Forgiveness is a process.
Two Roman Catholic priests who teach Focusing, Peter Campbell and Ed MacMohan, call this premature attempt to forgive process skipping. You can’t grunt up a change in how your body carries a situation, they say.
That’s certainly my own experience with forgiving my parents. I knew enough to listen to and be compassionate with my rage for my mother, the non-offending parent who failed to protect me. My only regret is that I hadn’t reached a place of forgiveness before she died. In recent years, I feel only love and caring for her. That happened on its own. I didn’t have the power to make it happen.
Gradually, I just noticed I was feeling differently about the adults who betrayed my childhood innocence.
These days I tend to remember the good acts of my father and his father, my grandfather. They weren’t just perpetrators. They were both much more. My father is still the man who patiently taught me to drive a car, and so much else. My grandfather is still the old man who waited for me to walk with him to the public library each week. Those are good memories.
Forgiveness, then, is something that just happens as long as we allow all our feelings the space they need. Suppressed feelings spring up somewhere else in our lives, harming our bodies and interfering with our relationships.
What’s your experience?
I welcome your comments. Please share your thoughts.