Set Your Hearts Free through Forgiveness
The previous blog highlighted the theme that conflicts are inevitable in the context of a network of relationships but the mantra to a life of peace and inner joy is to resolve conflicts as soon as they arise and not wait for the unknown tomorrow; a tomorrow which may never be a reality in our life. In this blog let us focus on the need to forgive and some practical ways to forgive.
It is an undeniable fact that we all get hurt but the person who has caused us pain and sleepless nights may be away on a cruise or at a party having fun and frolic and continuing to enjoy life, not in the least aware of the pain she/he has caused us; but are we not the ones who suffer? They go about as if nothing has happened, but we are the ones who are afflicted for years and some for life. What is at stake here? Reaction, rather than response to hurt, is what causes suffering in us. The path of forgiveness is choosing to respond rather than react.
Forgiveness is the only way to let go of hurt and resentments because if they remain in us they not only cause mental suffering, but also eventually affect our health. While we try to take good care of our bodies, little do we realize that we silently allow many mental, psychological, and emotional irritants to affect our bodies and eventually cause harm to them. There is an intimate relationship between the mind and the body. The mind affects the body and the body affects the mind as well. Both the body and the mind harbor tensions or knots. Every mental knot has a corresponding physical, muscular knot and vice-versa. Mental disturbances create toxins in our body. These toxins get accumulated in different parts of the body, giving rise to diseases. This is because of the intimate relationship between body and mind. Psychic, emotional, and mental irritants keep us snarled up in physical bondage and manifest themselves as different types of diseases in our body. Most of our diseases are said to be psychosomatic (mind-body).
Clinging to past hurts has its emotional and psychic consequences as well. Failure to let go of hurt and resentment and failure to forgive can result in depression, anxiety, paranoia, narcissism, stress, tension, heart diseases … Constant remembrance of past hurts and hurtful situations will damage us both in body and mind. Also the more we harbor resentments, hatred, revenge, and anger, the more we give power to the other person to hurt and control us. Isn’t the real enemy the one on whom we constantly project our own fears?
The one who has hurt us has moved on with his life but probably it is we who have been carrying these hurts within us for years and it is beginning to take its toll on our bodies too. Externally we are free but deep within us we are prisoners of our own anger and resentments. Isn’t it time to do something about it seriously?
In choosing to forgive we choose to respond rather than react.
Forgiveness is the refusal to live in the past.
It increases our spirit of compassion and we will experience tremendous inner freedom and a vast space within us.
Holding onto past hurts will block the inflow of grace within us.
Without forgiveness love is incomplete.
But all this sounds good but how to go about it? Let me share, in all humility, what has helped me and still is helping me; praying that it can help you as well. Give it a try and see if this path can be yours as well. From a spiritual perspective:
pray for the grace to forgive: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know for what they do.” Make this your personal prayer. If people are spiritual they won’t do what they do to hurt others.
in your prayer be open to grace, that is, revisit the person or events but not alone. Invite Jesus to be with you as you undertake this journey. While we always blame the other person, is there anything that I can take responsibility for it? In what measure have I contributed to it even if it is a small percent? Try to take ownership for it.
when we turn to God, God forgives us. But God’s forgiveness will be effective only when we forgive ourselves; forgive yourself.
Jesus asks us to pray and bless those who have cursed us and are against us. How do we go about doing what Jesus asks? One way is to close your eyes, take few minutes of silence to center yourself, bring the image of the person to your mind; hold that image for some time in your mind and address this prayer directly to the person:
Oh God may this person (say the name) be happy today!
May no harm come upon this person (name)!
May no evil, pain, or suffering touch him!
May he and his family be blessed with peace, joy, love, and prosperity!
Bless him and his family abundantly.
Do not hold it against him what he did to me.
And if I can get an opportunity may I not shy from my act of kindness.
May I be peace!
Pray this prayer solely with the intention to forgive and don’t forget to send your love and peace. Personally, I can vouch that this prayer, with God’s grace, works. Pray and witness the fruit of this prayer in your life too. Taking Jesus seriously isn’t romanticizing Jesus or his teachings but becoming and being like him: to forgive not seven times but seventy times seven. Forgive and experience the inner freedom and joy. And always remember that noting is impossible when God is involved in our desire to forgive.