How to Forgive, but Maybe Not Forget
I have held a grudge for 43 years. My life has been sweet but this grudge was always in the back of my mind. My spirit needed a boost. I needed to forgive. Each year it got harder and harder.
It all began in high school! We were the fearsome four – Debbie J, Cyndie, and Peggy. Inseparable! We spent a lot of time in Peggy’s bedroom scheming how to get boys to notice us and like us. I was a wallflower and did not go to one dance or one prom. I just wanted to be noticed. I went away to UW Stout in Menomonie, Wisconsin for college. I wanted to go to Berkley but it was too liberal for my dad and I could barely afford Stout, let alone Berkley.
I came home for Christmas break and was invited to Peggy’s brother’s house for a New Year’s Eve party. (Ironically, his apartment was on the same road that I got stopped for speeding years later). I was at the party for probably 10 minutes when drunken Peggy pushed me down the basement stairs. She did not even remember. I tore my cartilage and needed arthroscopy. It was decided I would wait until May when my semester ended to have surgery, which meant I needed to walk around campus all semester on crutches. The most challenging was climbing the stairs to the dining hall. My cartilage would get stuck and my knee would lock. It hurt. In winter, it was really challenging holding my school bag (that was before backpacks) and climbing over snow banks to get to class on time.
I thought my life sucked and thought this was supposed to be one of the best times of my life. No. Way. I had surgery in May by the Milwaukee Brewers physician. In the 70’s they removed your cartilage, which has created my need for a total knee. (The good news of the surgery was my mom used to literally put me on a blanket in the backyard to eat lunch. I met the garbage man and dated him for a while…but that is another story).
Negative thoughts of Peggy have been with me all these years when my knee held me back. When I ran my first and only 5 K race. When I was hiking the Napoli Coast in Kauai, Hawaii with my family. When I am in pilates. The list goes on and on. After all, it has been 43 years of my life.
So, I decided I have about twenty good years left to live. I am doing a life reset before my next big birthday! Part of the reset was claiming my spirit back. Being the old Chere. She has been missing for 43 years. I want my head full of abundance and without negativity. Time. To. Forgive. But how?
For years I have done the Forgiveness Room with clients. I could do that but knew I needed more. I was really upset I wanted to talk to Peggy about it but she passed away last summer.
I knew I needed a quiet, calming place to sit and reflect. If it was summer I would go to a favorite park or beach. I went to the adoration chapel at St. Hubert parish. I sat there as other women were praying and reading their books. My life coach, science-brain kicked in and I told myself to do decisional balance by making a pro and con list of forgiving Peggy. It was very apparent my spirit was being crushed which was taking energy away from my life. I thought WHY do I want to forgive Peggy? I want to live my life bigger and bolder NOW. At that moment I realized I was living in my past. The past is over. My dreams were waiting. My dreams are too important to waste being upset with one person and not forgiving her.
I needed to be done with it once and for all. I can choose. Do I choose positive feelings or do I choose negative feelings? We cannot hold both at the same time in our heart. When I realized that my past was blocking my future, it was easy to forgive.
Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. – Paul Boese
Forgiveness brings our spirit peace and calm. It does not mean our hurt is minimized as we can still be hurt. It does not mean we have to forget the incident. Forgiveness is not something we do for the other person. Forgiveness is a matter of accepting the reality of what happened and finding a way to have resolution with it. It is not something you do for the other person, it is something you do for you. You have to be willing to forgive. You can’t forgive someone until you release your anger towards that person. Sometimes you will need a great therapist to help you with this.
My Forgiveness Actions
In the adoration chapel, I read the following prayer several times from Emmet Fox in his book “Power Through Constructive Thought.”
“I fully and freely forgive (mention the name of who you are forgiving). I let him/her go. I completely forgive the whole business in question. As far as I am concerned, it is finished forever. I cast the burden of resentment on the God within me. (Name of person) is free now and I am too. I wish him/ her well in every phase of life. That incidence is finished and God has set us both free.”
When this event crosses your mind (and it will) simply say, “I release this event.” And then move your thoughts to something beautiful!
Then I entered the Forgiveness Room
The Forgiveness Room
So glad you could come to this special room.
Relax. Just be here.
Imagine that you are in your home or outside in a meadow.
Call this area the forgiveness room.
Whatever happens there is just perfect for you.
Invite someone into your forgiveness room.
See their face. Hear their voice. Feel their presence.
There is no right or wrong way.
However it happens is just perfect. Just be with this special person.
Next, talk to this special person about what you wish to forgive them for.
Say all you need to say. Tell them what is in your heart. Speak with gentleness, kindness, and care.
But, speak your truth. You will know when you are done speaking to this person.
Inhale in some energy.
Come back to present day life and reality.
Know that you can go to your forgiveness room any time you wish.
Take another breath and feel new energy and life into your being – because you have been to the forgiveness room.
And, always remember you can visit this room any time you wish.
So how do you start to forgive?
First, decide you are done living in the past.
Second, decide you are going to actively engage in healing and forgiving so your life can move on again. But only when you are ready. (This took me 43 years)
What do you need to do today to clear up negative feelings with someone who has hurt you?
We don’t get to the end of our lives and say, “I wished I had worked more or I wished I would have stayed angry longer.”
Life is too short for regrets. You will never regret that you have forgiven.
You have one life to live, just imagine it was one you loved, but only if you forgive and move on with your life. Remember Mahatma Gandhi says, “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” Be. Strong! Your life is waiting!
If you forgive someone please drop me a note so I can celebrate with you.