When old pain surfaces and its raw ache tears at your heart as if you were immersed in it all over again, do you wonder if you will ever be free of it? Do you question whether you will ever be completely healed? Do you struggle with forgiving those who caused this pain? Do you judge yourself for not being able to release these grievances to the past where they belong?
I want to be the magnanimous soul that does not judge and that forgives and loves unconditionally. I want to rise beyond the pain of my past to be compassionate, wise, and understanding. Beneath the exterior trappings that we all don to survive in this world, I want to see and respond to what is perfect and beautiful within each one of us. I want to recognize my spiritual brothers and sisters in everyone, especially those who have hurt me. Perhaps I think that being able to do this will mark my spiritual evolution in some way. Perhaps, even in my inner work, I am still imposing the impossible standard of perfectionism that I have held up as a measure of achievement my whole life.
Perhaps… and this may be the learning in this dilemma for me… perhaps I need to practise non-judgment and compassion with myself. Maybe I need to be with me as I would be with a good friend who is struggling. Would I judge a friend for experiencing pain from the past? Not at all. I would honour her healing journey. I would tell him to observe the pain however it is expressed, to open into it, to feel it right to the core of its intensity, and as the feeling subsides, to release it. I would honour this process as many times as it needed to arise. Perhaps I need to do this for me.
Would I judge a friend who is struggling with forgiveness? Would I tell a friend that she shouldn’t be feeling anger or bitterness toward someone who caused hurt? No, I wouldn’t. I would encourage him to express and honour the feelings that arise from within. I would support her in acknowledging what she feels. I would never tell him that he shouldn’t be feeling what he is feeling. Why then, do I do it to myself?
How would I support a friend in finding forgiveness? I would pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to help her forgive and to be able to see what is beautiful and pure and perfect at the core of those who wronged her. I would pray for the Holy Spirit’s help to release the pain of the past to the past and to help him to see everyone, even those who caused pain, in the light of the present moment, with no shadows from the past. I would pray for God’s Light and Love to heal and free her from a past that no longer exists, but which still weighs her down and colours her present. And in my prayer, I would honour his healing journey toward embracing the light of his own soul and his connection with all that is.
As I look at what I would do with heartfelt compassion and understanding for a friend, I realize that I need to be that same friend to myself. I need to open and allow all that arises. I need to feel what I feel. Experiencing a feeling doesn’t mean that I act on it. It just means that I acknowledge it, and as I do, it is released. I need to honour my own healing as the process that it is and to rely on the power of prayer to guide me toward complete healing and forgiveness. I know the power of this support to my friends. I need to give it to myself.
Dear spiritual sisters and brothers, I pray that you are compassionate with yourselves and that you practise the process of observing, allowing, and releasing whatever arises within you. Be as kind to yourselves as you are with your dear friends. And turn to your Higher Power, using whatever name works for you, and pray for the guidance that will move you toward healing and true forgiveness. It will be there for you as soon as you ask. Namaste.