Is Forgiveness the Answer to Your Challenge?

attractive young model on chair

by Gregory Toole

As I was searching keywords on my blogs of the past two years, surprisingly I found that I had not written about forgiveness, a topic my first spiritual teacher had at the core of her teaching. Rev. Elouise Oliver would ask students who came to her with any issue, “Who do you need to forgive?” Whether the issue was a health challenge, an off-track relationship, or a financial difficulty, the question was always the same, “Who do you need to forgive?”

Lack of forgiveness manifests itself in a wide variety of ways in our lives. One thing we can be sure of is that it will manifest itself in some unpleasant form, eventually. Essentially, lack of forgiveness is holding onto resentment for a prolonged period of time. It does not mean we never get angry or never feel resentful. These are normal emotions experienced temporarily by healthy people.

There was another minister who told the story of a woman in a wheelchair who showed up to a foundational spiritual class. She told the minister that she wanted to walk again. Upon reflection, he told the woman that they would start their healing work with the practice of forgiveness. Much to the minister’s wonder, the woman said she’d rather stay in a wheelchair than forgive. Apparently there was some deep hurt she was unwilling to let go of. Whether she would have walked again is unknown, but the story points to how much we can become attached to anger and resentment.

Usually when we refuse to forgive it is because we mistakenly believe that forgiveness is for the benefit of the other person. While the other person may derive some benefit from our forgiveness, the primary beneficiary of forgiveness is the one doing the forgiving. It is we who engage in the practice of forgiveness who are freed from the negative effects of holding onto anger and resentment.

Another common misperception about forgiveness is that we are condoning the behaviors that led to the feelings of anger, betrayal, or resentment. This is not true at all. The behavior itself may have been reprehensible. The question is, are we going to hold ourselves in a prison because we believe we are justified in our anger. Holding onto resentment has been compared to drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.

We are responsible for keeping our own energy field open and flowing with love. No doubt, people will do things to us, sometimes horrible things, and yet it is up to us in the longer term whether we will allow anything to pollute our energy field. Keeping love flowing in our energy field maintains us in the flow of divine goodness, such as prosperity, health, and loving relationships. Holding onto anger and resentment has the opposite effect, eventually causing blockage in our energy field, and therefore blockage in our connection to source energy.

In short, holding onto anger and resentment for prolonged periods of time will begin to manifest as poor health, shortages in our financial affairs, unfulfilling relationships, or all of these. The master teacher, Jesus, is quoted in Matthew 5:25, “Agree with thine adversary quickly,” which to me is a message of forgiveness. Keeping our energy field clean maintains us in the flow of divine harmony and wholeness.

The choice is clear. Let us begin today to open up the channels of love more fully. Let us forgive easily and enjoy life to its fullest.

Enjoy the journey.

Next week: The Practice of Forgiveness (how to do it)

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