Last week Kate Patterson was here from Hawaii leading a workshop. To close class she ended with this sentiment, “Take time to be grateful for the hard stuff. Those situations are the ones that make us grow and propel us forward on our spiritual path.” I love this statement because of its simple truth.
When difficulties arise it can shake your foundation to the core. We can fight it, hide from it, or face it head on as a learning experience. I have worked on forgiveness a lot over the years. I thought I was pretty good at it, but a new situation came up and obviously I had more to learn.
Here’s what I have learned. In order to forgive, you have to allow yourself to run the gamut of emotions and feel exactly what you are feeling. I think this is especially true when it comes to loss. Somehow we have to go through all the stages of grieving to come out on the other side. Time and “leaning in” to the emotions seem to be the only thing that can get you to a place of acceptance after loss. I know this was true for me.
Below is a piece of writing that I found just in time. It was a few weeks ago after meditating on this loss, trying to practice a lovingkindness meditation and still struggling. This spoke volumes and cleared the path for me to feel what I needed to so I could move forward.
Forgiveness is a process that happens over time. It is tempting to stay stuck cycling within anger, generated by pain, or to become numb so that the pain will not be felt, or to go into denial and not admit to myself that I am hurt. When I allow myself to feel a wound, I am taking my first step toward healing. Forgiveness and healing are intermingled. When I am more healed, I feel as if there is less to forgive. Hiding my wound makes me feel adamant about my need for retribution or apology. I see the other person as responsible for my pain. But whether or not they are responsible, the pain lives within me, and that is where it needs to heal. Forgiveness is more possible when I am able to engage in my own process of healing. Today I will have the courage to stop pretending that something doesn’t hurt. “The Soul’s Companion” by Tian Dayton, PhD.
So many times in our culture we are told to “get over it” or act as if nothing has happened. Maybe numbing ourselves to grief and loss is part of the problem, not the solution. Only when we face things head on with compassion and great care can we begin to truly heal for ourselves and our families.I found when I allowed myself to feel the vulnerability, feel the hurt and sorrow I was finally able to see clearly and move forward to forgive. Now my heart is lighter and I feel grateful for the opportunity I was given to learn and grow.