Several years ago on this blog, I shared about a profound forgiveness experience I had with my Dad who had been very abusive when I was growing up. My Mom had died on this December date when I was 10 years old, and he became my sole guardian.
However, the purpose of this post is not to focus on all the negative accounts of my upbringing but to focus on the healing power of forgiveness, which is the best gift we can give ourselves.
That said, back in 2000 when I first got the call that my father was dying, I had a lot of concerns about the whole situation. We hadn’t seen each other for quite some time, and I wasn’t sure seeing him again was in anyone’s best interest.
However, my wise mentor and coach at the time encouraged me to see him, and said that I’d be going to heal myself and not as a favor for him.
So, I hesitantly went to where he was hospitalized, and upon arrival, I saw a man I didn’t recognize. He was no longer the big and tall man I remembered but actually looked quite frail, and was uncharacteristically, not in control of his surroundings.
Over the course of several months, my siblings and I took turns visiting with him, so that he was never alone. Then, on one particular day, when my sister and I were on our way out of the hospital, I got this extremely strong internal push to return to his hospital room.
So, I quickly turned around and headed back toward his room with my sister following behind. Once inside, I approached his bedside, which she said was like a scene from a movie, with the director calling out, “action.”
I walked right up to my dad and said, “Hi dad just wanted to come back and tell you that I love you.”
He said, “I love you too,” which are words I never heard from him before.
My sister, who was in the back of the room silently observing the whole scene, said that the nurses in the room had stopped in their tracks while these unplanned and unexpected words were coming out of my mouth.
Soon after that he died.
My mentor had been right about my going to see him, and how healing it would be for me, and I suspect it was for him as well. I would have missed out on this great opportunity, if I hadn’t taken the action and gone to see him, in spite of my misgivings.
I would have missed out on the internal freedom and good feelings that resulted from the experience, as it helped me to heal through much of the emotional charge and pain surrounding my past.
Forgiving another is not about condoning, reconciling, minimizing or letting the offending party off the hook, but letting ourselves off the hook from carrying around the pain that resides in our minds and hearts.
Forgiveness is a process and not an overnight matter but continues to be the best cure for resentment, anger and all other forms of internal suffering.
Therefore, it is extremely important to courageously take the necessary steps to release ourselves from the negativity and grief that may be keeping us stuck.
A few methods that can assist us in this process are:
- Writing a letter to the offending party and expressing all the hurt that we have inside but not mailing it.
- Praying for the resented person in order to get the spiritual help, and courage to release the potent anger within.
- Being willing and open to follow the guidance, opportunities and situations that present themselves toward our healing.
- Learning and understanding that hurt people tend to hurt other people, and their behavior isn’t because there is something wrong or unlovable about us.
- Talking to a professional or an understanding friend to discuss and process the negative feelings we have about a particular person, memory or situation.
We learn that it is up to us to ask for help and come to terms with our experiences. No matter what our relationship is with our fathers or anyone else, let today and this holiday represent the healing power of forgiveness.
What processes help you to forgive?
If you are struggling with unpleasant feelings and thoughts about someone in your life; ask in meditation that you be shown the way to forgiveness, and be given the courage to follow the actions you are guided to take.